Vaccines based on viruses have the ability to provide lifelong protection from disease through induction of robust immunological memory. The Rose laboratory has developed vaccine platforms based on recombinant viruses that can be engineered to express high levels of foreign antigens. One of the major platforms is based on recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), a cattle virus that induces potent immune responses in a wide variety of animal species. The virus has been attenuated so that it no longer causes disease and then engineered to express protective antigens from other viruses or bacteria. Immunization with such vectors protects animals from infection and disease caused by numerous pathogens including influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), Ebola virus, and Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that caused the notorious bubonic plagues.
Research projects in the Rose laboratory are focused on further development and testing of the VSV vaccine platform as well as other platforms such as alphavirus replicons that are packaged by the VSV glycoprotein into infectious, virus-like particles. Major research projects are underway to develop new approaches to HIV/SIV vaccines, influenza vaccines, and vaccines to protect from emerging viruses for which no vaccines currently exist. Basic studies are directed at understanding the immunological basis for induction of potent immunological memory by the virus-based vectors. Additional studies are directed at understanding the mechanism of VSV-based vaccine vaccine protection from SIV infection in non-human primate models.