TWO CHILDHOOD diseases for which no prophylaxis exists may be prevented in the future by genetically engineered vaccines. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which causes bronchopneumonia and bronchiolitis mostly in infants and young children, and group A streptococcus, which causes pharyngitis ("strep throat") and can lead to serious sequelae, are the targets.
Michael W. Wathen, PhD, of the Cancer and Infectious Diseases Research Unit at the Upjohn Company, Kalamazoo, Mich, leads one group that is working with RSV. The virus' F and G glycoproteins are immunogenic: F governs cell-to-cell fusion (by which infection spreads within the body) and G governs viral attachment and penetration.
Wathen and colleagues have isolated the portion of the F glycoprotein gene that stimulates antibody production and fused it with its counterpart from the gene for the G glycoprotein to make a chimeric FG glycoprotein, which can be used to induce an immune response against both of