Modified vaccinia Ankara
|Trade names||Imvanex, Imvamune, Jynneos|
|AHFS/Drugs.com||Professional Drug Facts|
Modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) is an attenuated (weakened) strain of the vaccinia virus. It is being used as a vaccine (called MVA-BN, brand names: Imvanex in the EU, Imvamune in Canada, and Jynneos in the US) against smallpox and monkeypox, having fewer side effects than the traditional smallpox vaccine.
This third-generation smallpox vaccine has the advantage that it cannot reproduce complete virions in human cells, "the block of the MVA life cycle occurs at the step of virion assembly resulting in assembly of immature virus particles that are not released from the infected cell."
Development as a poxvirus vaccine
The traditional smallpox vaccine, which was used in the smallpox eradication campaign 1958–1977, consists of a live vaccinia virus which can replicate in humans but usually does not cause disease. It can however sometimes lead to serious side effects. Modified vaccinia Ankara virus is a highly attenuated strain of vaccinia virus that was developed in Munich, Germany between 1953 and 1968. It was produced by more than 500 serial passages of vaccinia virus (from a wild strain discovered by the Turkish vaccine institute of Ankara) in chicken embryo fibroblasts. After testing the safety and effectiveness as a vaccine, it was approved in Germany in 1977, and then given to about 120,000 people until 1980, when smallpox vaccinations ended in Germany. No severe adverse events were seen during this time.
It was later found that through the passaging, modified vaccinia virus Ankara had lost about 10% of the ancestral vaccinia genome and with it the ability to replicate efficiently in most mammalian cells. While it can enter host cells, express its genes and replicate its genome, it fails to assemble virus particles that are released from the cell.
The vaccine was further developed and manufactured by the Danish company Bavarian Nordic, resulting in the vaccine MVA-BN, which is unable to replicate in human cells. The vaccine is given subcutaneously in two doses, at least 28 days apart. It was approved in Canada in 2013, as a smallpox vaccine and in 2020 also against monkeypox and related orthopoxvirus infections. It was approved in the European Union in 2013, as a vaccine against smallpox and in the US in September 2019, against smallpox and monkeypox.
Modified vaccinia Ankara strains engineered to express foreign genes are vectors for production of recombinant proteins, the most common being a vaccine delivery system for antigens. A recombinant MVA-based vector for vaccination with different fluorescent reporter genes was developed, which indicate the progress of genetic recombination with the transgene of an antigen (green, colorless, red).
In animal models, MVA-based vector vaccines have been found to be immunogenic and protective against various infectious agents including immunodeficiency viruses, influenza, parainfluenza, measles virus, flaviviruses, tuberculosis, Plasmodium parasites as well as certain cancers.
MVA-B is an experimental vaccine to protect against HIV infection, produced by inserting HIV genes into the genome of modified vaccinia virus Ankara. In phase I clinical trials in 2013, it was found to be safe but produced only moderate levels of anti-HIV immunity. After removing a certain MVA gene, the vaccine produced an improved immune response in mice.
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