A famous milestone in the vaccine field has been the first successful vaccination against smallpox in 1798 by Edward Jenner. Using the vaccinia cowpox virus, Jenner was able to protect vaccinees from variola or smallpox. The Modified Virus Ankara (MVA) poxvirus strain has been one of the vaccines subsequently developed to prevent smallpox infection and was selected by the US government in their Biodefense strategy. MVA is a non-propagative virus with a strong established safety profile. Progress in molecular biology as well as in the understanding of the host mounted immune responses after infection by MVA have lead to the development of MVA as vaccine platform in the field of preventive and therapeutic vaccination. This later class of therapeutics has witnessed growing interest that has translated into an increasing number of therapeutic vaccine candidates reaching the clinics both in oncology and infectious diseases. Prototype MVA-based therapeutic vaccines have targeted four major chronic infections including viral hepatitis, AIDS, human papillomavirus- linked pathologies and tuberculosis. More recently, we have used MVA to deliver a so-called “host-directed therapy” i.e. a therapy targeting host pathways rather than directly the pathogen. Specifically, we have developed a recombinant HDT-MVA to deliver the IL-7 immune-modulator with the goal to restore immune homeostasis in critically ill sepsis patients.
This lecture will present through specific examples, a review of the growing place taken by MVA-based “virotherapies” to fight infectious diseases. Both pre-clinical and clinical developments will be discussed.
Audience Take Away:
- Presentation will help the audience to get familiar with novel concepts and application of viral-based products.
- It will encourage researchers to get involved in the growing field of immunotherapies.
- It should reassure the clinicians about safety implementing immunotherapies to treat infectious diseases beyond and/or in complement to more traditional treatments (such as antivirals and antibiotics).
- It could motivate faculty to add to their tutorial a chapter on use of viruses/viral-based platforms in the development of novel weapons to fight infectious diseases.