The magnitude and durability of immunity to human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) following natural infection is compromised by the presence of immune modulation genes that appear to promote evasion of host clearance mechanisms. Since immunity to HCMV offers limited protection, rational design of effective vaccines has been challenging. In this issue of the JCI, Slavuljica and colleagues employ techniques to genetically modify the highly related mouse CMV (MCMV), in the process generating a virus that was rapidly cleared by NK cells. The virus functioned as a safe and highly effective vaccine. Demonstration of the ability to engineer a safe and highly effective live virus vaccine in a relevant rodent model of CMV infection may open the door to clinical trials of safer and more immunogenic HCMV vaccines.
Mark R. Schleiss