Vaccines and viral antigenic diversity
Rev Sci Tech Off Int Epizoot
Antigenic diversity among ribonucleic acid (RNA) viruses occurs as a result of rapid mutation during replication and recombination/reassortment between genetic material of related strains during co-infections. Variants which have a selective advantage in terms of ability to spread or to avoid host immunity become established within populations. Examples of antigenically diverse viruses include influenza, foot and mouth disease (FMD) and bluetongue (BT). Effective vaccination against such
... against such viruses requires surveillance programmes to monitor circulating serotypes and their evolution to ensure that vaccine strains match field viruses. A formal vaccine strain selection scheme for equine influenza has been established under the auspices of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) based on an international surveillance programme. A regulatory framework has been put in place to allow rapid updating of vaccine strains withoutthe need to provide full registration data for licensing the updated vaccine. While there is extensive surveillance of FMD worldwide and antigenic and genetic characterisation of isolates, there is no formal vaccine strain selection system. A coordinated international effort has been initiated to agree harmonised approaches to virus characterisation which is aimed at providing the basis for an internationally agreed vaccine matching system for FMD supported by the OIE. The emergence and spread of BT in Europe have resulted in an intensification of vaccine evaluation in terms of safety and efficacy, particularly cross-protection within and between serotypes. The most important requirement for producing vaccines against viruses displaying antigenic diversity is a method of measuring antigenic distances between strains and developing an understanding of how these distances relate to cross-protection. Antigenic cartography, a new computational method of quantifying antigenic distances between strains has been applied to human and equine influenza to examine the significance of viral evolution in relation to vaccine strains. This method is highly applicable to other important pathogens displaying antigenic diversity, such as FMD.