Deep sequencing reveals viral vaccine contaminants

Deep sequencing reveals viral vaccine contaminants

by Vincent Racaniello on 29 March 2010

Use of the rotavirus vaccine Rotarix in the US has been temporarily suspended because the vaccine was found to be contaminated with porcine circovirus 1 DNA. The discovery was made in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Delwart, who has provided insight into what was found in Rotarix, and why he was analyzing the vaccine.

Delwart and his colleagues examined the purity of a number of human vaccines:

A little historical perspective about why we decided to analyze these vaccines even though there was absolutely no indications whatsoever that they are at all unsafe. Our intent was to use the latest technologies to show that live attenuated vaccine only contained the expected viral genomes and no other.

The Delwart laboratory obtained samples of eight infectious attenuated viral vaccines from the manufacturers: oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV, Bharat Biotech), rubella (Meruvax-II, Merck), measles (Attenuvax, Merck), yellow fever (YF-Vax, Sanofi Pasteur), human herpes 3 (Varivax, Merck), rotavirus (Rotarix, GlaxoSmithKline; and Rotateq, Merck) and multivalent measles-mumps-rubella (MMR-II, Merck). The vaccines were treated with DNAse and RNAse to remove nucleic acids that are not protected by viral capsids. Nucleic acid was then extracted from the vaccine, amplified by polymerase chain reaction, and subjected to DNA sequencing. A total of 501,753 sequence ‘reads’ were done.

The sequence analysis revealed the expected vaccine strains in each preparation, and in three cases, other unexpected viral sequences. The retrovirus avian leukosis virus was found in the measles vaccine….

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