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e current smallpox vaccine), monkeypox virus (MPOV), and variola virus (the virus that causes smallpox), are highly similar in the majority of their nearly 200 proteins, which accounts superficially for the cross-protection among these viruses," say the researchers.

The researchers tested a DNA-based vaccine containing genes from the orthopox family of viruses. It successfully prevented monkeypox virus infection in monkeys, an indicator that it could protect against smallpox in humans. A DNA based vaccine would not have the adverse side effects commonly associated with the live vaccine, such as the dangerous heart inflammation that halted a recent clinical trial.

"We demonstrated here that a DNA vaccine compromised of four VACV genes and administered by gene gun is capable of protecting nonhuman primates against severe monkeypox," say the researchers. "Such a vaccine would contribute greatly to vaccination strategies aimed at reducing the health hazards of the present smallpox vaccine."

(J.W. Hooper, E. Thompson, C. Wilhelmsen, M. Zimmerman, M. Ait Ichou, S.E. Steffen, C.S. Schmaljohn, A.L. Schmaljohn, and P.B. Jahrling. 2004. Smallpox DNA vaccine protects nonhuman primates against lethal monkeypox. Journal of Virology, 78. 9: 4433-4443.)


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Contact: Jim Sliwa
jsliwa@asmusa.org
202-942-9297
American Society for Microbiology
16-Apr-2004


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