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Virol J. 2012 Jan 6;9:5. doi: 10.1186/1743-422X-9-5.

In vitro inhibition of monkeypox virus production and spread by Interferon-β.

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Virology Division, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, 1425 Porter St, Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD 21702, USA.



The Orthopoxvirus genus contains numerous virus species that are capable of causing disease in humans, including variola virus (the etiological agent of smallpox), monkeypox virus, cowpox virus, and vaccinia virus (the prototypical member of the genus). Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease that is endemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is characterized by systemic lesion development and prominent lymphadenopathy. Like variola virus, monkeypox virus is a high priority pathogen for therapeutic development due to its potential to cause serious disease with significant health impacts after zoonotic, accidental, or deliberate introduction into a naïve population.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the prophylactic and therapeutic potential of interferon-β (IFN-β) for use against monkeypox virus. We found that treatment with human IFN-β results in a significant decrease in monkeypox virus production and spread in vitro. IFN-β substantially inhibited monkeypox virus when introduced 6-8 h post infection, revealing its potential for use as a therapeutic. IFN-β induced the expression of the antiviral protein MxA in infected cells, and constitutive expression of MxA was shown to inhibit monkeypox virus infection.


Our results demonstrate the successful inhibition of monkeypox virus using human IFN-β and suggest that IFN-β could potentially serve as a novel safe therapeutic for human monkeypox disease.

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