NIAID has provided significant support for development of the Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccine against smallpox, a scientific achievement that will make the nation safer in the event of a biological terrorist attack.
Smallpox is a disfiguring and potentially deadly disease caused by Variola major. The last naturally-occurring case was in 1977. In 1980, the World Health Organization declared that smallpox had been eradicated. However, smallpox continues to be of great concern to public health officials due to the possibility that terrorists could use it as a weapon.
The Dryvax vaccine was used in smallpox eradication, and the United States has enough of its successor, Acam2000, on hand to vaccinate the population in the case of a terrorist attack. However, both Dryvax and Acam2000 pose safety concerns and can only be administered to people at high risk for smallpox infection.
The second generation smallpox vaccine, MVA, was first delivered to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) in May 2010. Although not yet licensed, MVA is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use in the event of a smallpox outbreak.
NIAID supported early advanced development work for this important vaccine. This included support of nonclinical development, such as IND-enabling toxicology and efficacy studies; process development, scale up, and cGMP manufacturing; assay development and validation; and clinical trials in individuals infected with HIV and atopic dermatitis. NIAID/DMID preclinical services were essential to the success of the MVA project. Numerous animal model development studies were completed, including development and qualification of assays, development and standardization of the viral challenge system, and natural history, virulence, and vaccine efficacy studies.
NIAID is supporting studies to enhance the stability of the vaccine, identify ways to decrease the amount of vaccine needed to provide protection, and explore MVA as a platform technology to provide protection against more than one disease.
Last Updated March 19, 2013