Self-Amplifying RNA Viruses as RNA Vaccines.Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Jul 20; 21(14)IJ
Single-stranded RNA viruses such as alphaviruses, flaviviruses, measles viruses and rhabdoviruses are characterized by their capacity of highly efficient self-amplification of RNA in host cells, which make them attractive vehicles for vaccine development. Particularly, alphaviruses and flaviviruses can be administered as recombinant particles, layered DNA/RNA plasmid vectors carrying the RNA replicon and even RNA replicon molecules. Self-amplifying RNA viral vectors have been used for high level expression of viral and tumor antigens, which in immunization studies have elicited strong cellular and humoral immune responses in animal models. Vaccination has provided protection against challenges with lethal doses of viral pathogens and tumor cells. Moreover, clinical trials have demonstrated safe application of RNA viral vectors and even promising results in rhabdovirus-based phase III trials on an Ebola virus vaccine. Preclinical and clinical applications of self-amplifying RNA viral vectors have proven efficient for vaccine development and due to the presence of RNA replicons, amplification of RNA in host cells will generate superior immune responses with significantly reduced amounts of RNA delivered. The need for novel and efficient vaccines has become even more evident due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has further highlighted the urgency in challenging emerging diseases.