The continued prevalence and medical impact of measles worldwide has created interest in the development of new generations of measles vaccines. Monkeys can be used for preclinical testing of these vaccines. However, a more practical and less expensive animal model is highly desirable, particularly for initial vaccine development and evaluation. Cotton rats have been shown to support the replication of different strains of measles virus (MV), and thus may be useful for these purposes. To test this concept, the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of two standard (Moraten and trivalent measles, mumps, rubella) and four experimental (two recombinant ALVAC, one ISCOM subunit and live attenuated Edmonston–Zagreb) MV vaccines were evaluated in naïve cotton rats, and cotton rats with passively acquired MV-specific neutralizing serum antibodies. All of the test vaccines were immunogenic and protected naïve animals from pulmonary infection and viral dissemination. However, under the conditions utilized, only the Edmonston–Zagreb vaccine provided such protection to animals with significant levels of passively acquired MV-specific neutralizing antibodies. The results of these tests and the potential of using cotton rats as an animal model for preliminary testing of MV vaccines are discussed.

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Wyde, P., Stittelaar, K., Osterhaus, A., Guzman, E., & Gilbert, B. (2000). Use of cotton rats for preclinical evaluation of measles vaccines. Vaccine, 19(1), 42–53. doi:10.1016/S0264-410X(00)00151-1