Development of a skin- and neuro-attenuated live vaccine for varicella

Wei Wang, Dequan Pan, Wenkun Fu, Xiangzhong Ye, Jinle Han, Lianwei Yang, Jizong Jia, Jian Liu, Rui Zhu, Yali Zhang, Che Liu, Jianghui Ye, Anca Selariu, Yuqiong Que, Qinjian Zhao, Ting Wu, Yimin Li, Jun Zhang, Tong Cheng, Hua ZhuNingshao Xia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Varicella caused by the primary infection of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) exerts a considerable disease burden globally. Current varicella vaccines consisting of the live-attenuated vOka strain of VZV are generally safe and effective. However, vOka retains full neurovirulence and can establish latency and reactivate to cause herpes zoster in vaccine recipients, raising safety concerns. Here, we rationally design a live-attenuated varicella vaccine candidate, v7D. This virus replicates like wild-type virus in MRC-5 fibroblasts and human PBMCs, the carrier for VZV dissemination, but is severely impaired for infection of human skin and neuronal cells. Meanwhile, v7D shows immunogenicity comparable to vOka both in vitro and in multiple small animal species. Finally, v7D is proven well-tolerated and immunogenic in nonhuman primates. Our preclinical data suggest that v7D is a promising candidate as a safer live varicella vaccine with reduced risk of vaccine-related complications, and could inform the design of other herpes virus vaccines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number824
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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