Cytomegalovirus (CMV) expert Sallie Permar, M.D., Ph.D., of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center says lack of awareness and funding as well as some characteristics of the virus itself have slowed development of vaccine against CMV.
Third of four parts
Researchers have been pursuing a vaccine for cytomegalovirus (CMV) for 50 years, according to Sallie Permar, M.D., Ph.D., and vaccine pioneer Stanley Plotkin turned to CMV as the very next target after spearheading the development of the rubella vaccine.
Still there is no vaccine.
Lack of the limelight is partly the reason, said Permar, who gave a talk this afternoon at the ID Week 2023 meeting in Boston titled “CMV Vaccines: Where Are We Now?”
Polls show that only 9% of women who are of childbearing age know about CMV, said Permar. “I don't think it's gotten the attention from the public. It has not gotten the attention from the funders. It's not gotten attention even the from scientists that this is a problem they should be focused on. And I think that's held the field back,” said Permar, who is a leader in the research of prevention and treatment of neonatal viral infections and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine and pediatrician-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and the NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital.
Vaccine development has also been difficult because of inherent properties of CMV, Permar explained. It has a large DNA genome and has evolved to have strategies to evade the immune system that more extensive than any other viral pathogen, she said.
CMV’s large genome has also made it versatile when it comes to entering cells, Permar explained. It has 14 different immune complexes on it surface that it uses in combinations to enter cells compared with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, which has the now-famous single spike protein.