Sallie R. Permar, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases; professor of molecular genetics and microbiology, immunology, and pathology; and member of Duke Human Vaccine Institute, recently received an NIAID P01 on congenital CMV entitled: "Immunologic and Virologic Determinants of Congenital Cytomegalovirus Transmission and Disease in Rhesus Monkeys."
Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the leading infectious cause of birth defects and infant neurologic deficits, yet gaps in knowledge of the protective maternal immune responses has impeded the development of a successful CMV vaccine to eliminate this cause of infant morbidity. The overarching goal of this program is to end the stalemate in congenital CMV vaccine research by defining the key immune responses and viral-host interactions that dictate primary fetal CMV transmission and disease.
This $14M, five-year program brings together the three national primate centers (University of California Davis, Tulane, and Oregon Health Sciences University), with Duke as the central hub. It is based on work that was made possible by an NIH DP2 grant Permar received where she and her team were able to establish the primate congenital CMV model and demonstrate that maternal antibodies alone can be protective. This P01 will allow Permar and collaborative investigator Peter A. Barry, PhD, from the University of California to establish what vaccine targets are most critical for protection against congenital CMV transmission and disease.
Permar and Barry anticipate that the work of the program will identify immune responses and virologic-host interactions that will guide the design of the next generation of congenital CMV vaccines and will also refine the NHP model to tailor it for future CMV vaccine candidate testing.