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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Oct 15;93(21):11341-8.

Genetically engineered poxviruses for recombinant gene expression, vaccination, and safety.

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  • 1Laboratory of Viral Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-0445, USA.


Vaccinia virus, no longer required for immunization against smallpox, now serves as a unique vector for expressing genes within the cytoplasm of mammalian cells. As a research tool, recombinant vaccinia viruses are used to synthesize and analyze the structure-function relationships of proteins, determine the targets of humoral and cell-mediated immunity, and investigate the types of immune response needed for protection against specific infectious diseases and cancer. The vaccine potential of recombinant vaccinia virus has been realized in the form of an effective oral wild-life rabies vaccine, although no product for humans has been licensed. A genetically altered vaccinia virus that is unable to replicate in mammalian cells and produces diminished cytopathic effects retains the capacity for high-level gene expression and immunogenicity while promising exceptional safety for laboratory workers and potential vaccine recipients.

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