Vaccine expected to induce strong immune responses against 2022 monkeypox virus, research shows

New research has suggested that recommended vaccinia virus (VACV)-based vaccines will mount a robust immune response against the monkeypox virus observed in the current outbreak (MPXV-2022).

Since the new virus was first observed in early May 2022, over 52,000 cases have been confirmed in more than 90 countries and regions, including Hong Kong, as the city recorded the first imported case on Monday.

The study, co-led by University of Melbourne Prof. Matthew MCKAY, ARC Future Fellow at the University and Professorial Fellow (Honorary) at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute), and Prof. Ahmed Abdul QUADEER, Research Assistant Professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), was published in the international journal Viruses.

Weeks after the new strain emerged, the team undertook genomic research to find out if the genetic mutations observed in MPXV-2022 may affect vaccine-induced immune responses against monkeypox.

“Specific VACV-based vaccines have demonstrated high efficacy against monkeypox viruses in the past and are considered an important outbreak control measure,” Prof. McKay, who is also an Adjunct Professor at HKUST said.

“However, given this is a novel monkeypox virus, we still lack scientific data on how well human immune responses triggered by VACV-based vaccines will recognise MPXV-2022 and provide protection against disease.”

Using genomic and immunological data, the team evaluated the genetic similarities and differences between VACV and MPXV-2022, specifically within the protein regions that are targeted by vaccine-induced neutralizing antibodies or T cells.

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