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Virology. 2008 Feb 5;371(1):98-107. Epub 2007 Oct 24.

Immunogenicity and protection efficacy of subunit-based smallpox vaccines using variola major antigens.

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  • 1Laboratory of Nucleic Acid Vaccines, Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01655, USA.


The viral strain responsible for smallpox infection is variola major (VARV). As a result of the successful eradication of smallpox with the vaccinia virus (VACV), the general population is no longer required to receive a smallpox vaccine, and will have no protection against smallpox. This lack of immunity is a concern due to the potential for use of smallpox as a biological weapon. Considerable progress has been made in the development of subunit-based smallpox vaccines resulting from the identification of VACV protective antigens. It also offers the possibility of using antigens from VARV to formulate the next generation subunit-based smallpox vaccines. Here, we show that codon-optimized DNA vaccines expressing three VARV antigens (A30, B7 and F8) and their recombinant protein counterparts elicited high-titer, cross-reactive, VACV neutralizing antibody responses in mice. Vaccinated mice were protected from intraperitoneal and intranasal challenges with VACV. These results suggest the feasibility of a subunit smallpox vaccine based on VARV antigen sequences to induce immunity against poxvirus infection.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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