Vaccination has had great success in combating diseases, especially infectious diseases. However, traditional vaccination strategies are ineffective for several life-threatening diseases, including acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), tuberculosis, malaria, and cancer. Viral vaccine vectors represent a promising strategy because they can efficiently deliver foreign genes and enhance antigen presentation in vivo. However, several limitations, including pre-existing immunity and packaging capacity, block the application of viral vectors. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) has been demonstrated as a new type of viral vector with additional advantages. CMV could systematically elicit and maintain high frequencies of effector memory T cells through the “memory inflation” mechanism. Studies have shown that CMV can be genetically modified to induce distinct patterns of CD8+
T-cell responses, while some unconventional CD8+
T-cell responses are rarely induced through conventional vaccine strategies. CMV has been used as a vaccine vector to deliver many disease-specific antigens, and the efficacy of these vaccines was tested in different animal models. Promising results demonstrated that the robust and unconventional T-cell responses elicited by the CMV-based vaccine vector are essential to control these diseases. These accumulated data and evidence strongly suggest that a CMV-based vaccine vector represents a promising approach to develop novel prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines against some epidemic pathogens and tumors.
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