About the book
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is one of the most common human viruses and the cause of pathologies such as infectious mononucleosis (IM) and certain cancers, such as immunodeficiency-related B cell lymphoma, Burkitt and Hodgkin lymphoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and gastric carcinomas. In the past two decades, the association of EBV other cancers (breast cancer) or other chronic pathologies (multiple sclerosis or MS) has also been proposed. EBV, like other Human Herpesviruses (HHV1-8), has co-evolved through a persistent infection in the host, spread efficiently to others, generally without causing serious disease. Despite its discovery now more than fifty years ago, immune control of this virus is still not very well understood and no vaccine is available.
This knowledge gap is due in part to the lack of a preclinical small animal model which can faithfully recapitulate EBV infection and immune control and would allow testing of EBV specific vaccine candidates. With the advent of mice with reconstituted human immune system compartments (HIS mice) during the past decade, this is changing. The complex interplay between host and virus has made it difficult to elaborate useful vaccine strategies to protect against the EBV-associated diseases (including chronic diseases like MS) or to find efficient drugs specifically targeting EBV malignancies.
One challenge is that the EBV expresses very different proteins during its lytic and its latent phases. To address this, vaccine candidates have been designed to include proteins from both phases. As EBV is associated with nearly 200,000 new malignancies each year worldwide, an EBV vaccine to prevent these diseases is needed. Parallel to this needs one could propose priorities for future research: (i) Identification of surrogate markers that predict the development of EBV-related malignancies. (ii) Definition of a goal for an EBV vaccine and criteria for licensure (iii), investigation of the potential usefulness of targeting certain lytic proteins in the context of drug discovery.