Evaluation of immune responses to novel Adeno-Associated Viruses for vaccine and gene therapy applications
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The transfer of a desired gene to several types of target tissues has been accomplished successfully in the past using existing Adeno-associated viruses (AAVs). Also, it has recently been shown that AAV can stimulate robust antibody responses due to long-term transgene expression or abolishment of transgene product by cell-mediated immune responses, suggesting the potential use of AAVs as vaccines. Most humans already have pre-existing immunity to common AAV serotypes making novel AAVs of low seroprevalence attractive as gene transfer or vaccine vehicles. This thesis describes my primary research objectives that included the isolation of novel AAV serotypes based on AAV DNA sequences from porcine tissues, novel AAV vector production, and biological characterization of porcine AAVs in vitro and in vivo. This was followed by evaluating immune responses in mice vaccinated with porcine AAV vectors expressing the hemagglutinin (HA) from the avian influenza A/Hanoi/30408/2005 (H5N1) strain. These findings show that low seroprevalence porcine AAV vectors were able to efficiently transduce a wide range of cells and tissues. The porcine vectors also performed well as vaccine candidates and were efficient at stimulating host immune responses. Although porcine vectors were successful as vaccines, further studies involving long term gene expression by porcine AAVs is still necessary to confirm their role as gene therapy vehicles.