Research Finding by Zhou Demin and Zhang Lihe Awarded Ten Major Progresses of China Science of 2017
“Ten Major Progresses of China Science of 2017” was announced in Beijing on February 27, 2018. Elected was “Direct Transformation of Viruses into Live Vaccines and Therapeutic Drugs”—the research achievement by the team of Professors Zhou Demin and Zhang Lihe from the State Key Laboratory of Natural and Biomimetic Drugs at Peking University School of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Deadly infectious diseases such as influenza, AIDS, and Ebola hemorrhagic fever pose a constant hazard to human health and social stability. The “black hands” behind the scenes are the virus that is multi-structural and functional and capable of mutating rapidly. And vaccination is the effective method to prevent virus infection.
The research team of Zhou Demin and Zhang Lihe used the influenza virus as the model and retained its complete structure and infectivity. They mutated one of its triplet genetic codes into termination codon, and then the influenza virus was turned from a pathogenic source of infection into a preventive virus. More triplet genetic codes being mutated into termination codons, the virus was turned into a therapeutic drug.
( Generation of live but replication-incompetent virus vaccines with termination codon)
The features of such vaccines are maintaining all of the antigens, the complete infectivity, and the same infection path of the wild-type virus. The vaccines could induce human body to generate intense and extensive humoral, nasal mucosal, and T-cell activated immune responses. But after infected with the vaccines, the human body would lack of replication. This method changed the standard idea of inactivated and attenuated vaccines, and will be a universal approach to developing live vaccines and can target almost all viruses.
The research has obtained long-term support from China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, National Natural Science Foundation, Ministry of Education, and Peking University. It is a typical example of our nation’s long-term support of basic researches and encouraging clinical translation of basic researches. It’s also one of the breakthrough achievements of PKU medical research. Science commented it as the revolutionary breakthrough in virus vaccines, and Nature called it “a new way to tame viruses”.
The research findings were published in Science on December 2, 2016 (Science, 354 (6316): 1170-1173).
Written by: Lang Lang
Edited by: Liu Xin