Vaccinia Vectors as Candidate Vaccines: The Development of Modified Vaccinia Virus Ankara for Antigen Delivery
Vaccinia viruses engineered to express foreign genes are powerful vectors for production of recombinant proteins. Originating from highly efficacious vaccines securing world-wide eradication of smallpox, the most appealing use of vaccinia vectors is to serve as vaccine delivery system for heterologous antigens. Concerns about the safety of vaccinia virus have been addressed by the development of vectors based on attenuated viruses. One of them, modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) can be considered as current vaccinia virus strain of choice for clinical investigation. Historical development and use of MVA as vaccine against smallpox allowed to establish an extraordinary safety profile. MVA can be used under conditions of biosafety level 1 because of its avirulence and its deficiency to productively grow in human cells. In recent years significant progress has been made with regard to the development of MVA vector technologies. Compared to replication competent vaccinia viruses, MVA provides similar levels of recombinant gene expression even in nonpermissive cells. In animal models, MVA vaccines have been found immunogenic and protective against various infectious agents including immunodeficiency viruses, influenza, parainfluenza, measles virus, flaviviruses, or plasmodium parasites. By now first data from clinical trials are becoming available. In this article we briefly review history of MVA and state-of-the art technologies with regard to generation of recombinant MVA vaccines, and describe the progress to develop MVA vector vaccines against important infectious diseases.
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