Results from a new study indicate that hybrid laboratory antibodies derived from chimpanzees and humans may provide a potentially safe and effective way to treat the serious complications that can occur following smallpox vaccination--and possibly may even protect against the deadly disease itself. The study, led by researchers with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), appears online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
A worldwide immunization program officially eradicated naturally occurring smallpox disease in 1980. However, concerns of a bioterror attack involving the highly contagious and fatal virus have prompted researchers to search for new smallpox vaccines and treatments.
The currently licensed smallpox vaccine consists of a live but weakened strain of vaccinia virus, a relative of the variola virus that causes smallpox. Vaccinia immunization has been proven effective in generating immunity against smallpox virus and other orthopoxviruses, including monkeypox and cowpox.
Kathy Stover | EurekAlert!
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