Vaccination strategies against highly pathogenic arenaviruses: the next steps toward clinical trials

PLoS Pathog. 2013;9(4):e1003212. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003212. Epub 2013 Apr 11.


Vaccination is one of the most valuable weapons against infectious diseases and has led to a significant reduction in mortality and morbidity. However, for most viral hemorrhagic fevers caused by arenaviruses, no prophylactic vaccine is available. This is particularly problematic as these diseases are notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat. Lassa fever is globally the most important of the fevers caused by arenaviruses, potentially affecting millions of people living in endemic areas, particularly in Nigeria. Annually, an estimated 300,000 humans are infected and several thousands succumb to the disease. The successful development of the vaccine "Candid#1" against Junin virus, the causative agent of Argentine hemorrhagic fever, proved that an effective arenavirus vaccine can be developed. Although several promising studies toward the development of a Lassa fever vaccine have been published, no vaccine candidate has been tested in human volunteers or patients. This review summarizes the immunology and other aspects of existing experimental arenavirus vaccine studies, discusses the reasons for the lack of a vaccine, and proposes a plan for overcoming the final hurdles toward clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology
  • Antibodies, Viral / biosynthesis
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Arenaviridae Infections / immunology
  • Arenaviridae Infections / prevention & control*
  • Arenaviridae Infections / virology
  • Arenavirus / classification
  • Arenavirus / immunology*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Discovery
  • Hemorrhagic Fevers, Viral / immunology
  • Hemorrhagic Fevers, Viral / prevention & control*
  • Hemorrhagic Fevers, Viral / virology
  • Humans
  • Junin virus / immunology
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / immunology
  • Viral Vaccines / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Vaccines, Attenuated
  • Viral Vaccines

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this study.