Study begins to find more effective manner of fighting smallpox

A more effective manner of administering an investigational vaccine for smallpox will be studied by scientists at Saint Louis University's Center for Vaccine Development in a study funded by the National Institute of Health.

“The United States government is making efforts to improve its ability to protect citizens in case of a possible bioterrorist attack,” Sharon Frey, principal investigator and professor of infectious diseases at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, told

The new study will compare two preparations of Bavarian Nordic's IMVAMUNE, which can be stored as both a powder or a liquid. The powder is combined with a liquid prior to giving it as a shot.

The body's immune response when given a subcutaneous shot of IMVAMUNE into the fat between the skin and muscle will be compared to intradermal injections between the layers of skin.

Less vaccine is required to generate an immune response when injected intradermally. If the study can show that intradermal injections are safe and provide an immune response as strong as a subcutaneous injection, more people could potentially be protected from smallpox with the same amount of vaccine.

Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980, though it continues to be a source of concern in regards to bioterrorism.

IMVAMUNE, as a vaccine against smallpox, differs from other vaccines as it does not replicate in the body, making post-vaccination complications minimal. IMVAMUNE has been tested in more than 2,400 volunteers and has shown in studies to be safe and well tolerated.