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Effectiveness of safer smallpox vaccine demonstrated against monkeypox

. Group two received the MVA vaccine at the start of the study and the Dryvax vaccine two months later. Group three received no injection at the start but received a Dryvax injection after two months. Group four, the control, received no vaccines. Immune responses were monitored throughout the immunization period, and then, later, after the monkeys were exposed to monkeypox.

After vaccinating the monkeys, researchers examined the number of lesions that formed on the animals' skin and the amount of time in which they healed. Monkeys that received Dryvax alone developed the characteristic fluid-filled skin lesions, while those that received MVA prior to Dryvax had much smaller lesions. Furthermore, those that received MVA alone had no skin lesions.

The researchers then looked for antibodies produced against two different forms of the poxvirus: intracellular mature virions (IMVs), virus particles thought to be responsible for transmitting the disease from one host to another; and extracellular enveloped virions, IMVs with an added outer membrane that play a large role in spreading the disease within the individual. To be effective, a vaccine needs to protect against both forms of the virus, and each form requires a different set of antibodies to destroy it. In addition to measuring antibodies, the scientists examined the production of killer T cells, special immune cells that attack cells already infected by the monkeypox virus.

Dr. Moss and his research team discovered that the immune responses elicited by the MVA vaccine were similar to those produced by Dryvax in regard to both antibodies and killer T cells.

Two months after the second vaccination, all 24 monkeys were exposed to monkeypox. Remarkably, all the immunized animals remained healthy with no signs of disease, except for a small number of lesions seen on several monkeys from the MVA-only group. The unvaccinated monkeys, however, had more than 500 lesions each and became ser
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Contact: Jennifer Wenger
jwenger@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
10-Mar-2004


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