LJI scientists confirm smallpox vaccine also teaches T cells to fight mpox

Dec. 7, 2022
Study from La Jolla Institute for Immunology.

There's even more reason to think a vaccine developed against smallpox can help the body fight against mpox (monkeypox virus disease) as well, according to researchers at La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI). Their new study, published in Cell Host & Microbe, is the first to provide evidence that the vaccinia vaccine MVA-BN (brand name JYNNEOS) should also train virus-fighting T cells to recognize mpox sequences.

The study comes as more than 100 countries reported unprecedented mpox outbreaks. In the United States, there have been more than 28,000 reported cases and 11 deaths attributed to mpox since May 2022.

For the new study, the LJI team set out to study if the viral proteins known to be targeted by T cells induced by VACV vaccination, would also be conserved in JYNNEOS and in mpox.

The researchers demonstrated that the known targets of T cell responses seen in the VACV proven -efficacy vaccine, are also found in JYNNEOS and mpox, suggesting that the JYNNEOS vaccine can indeed trigger an effective T cell response against mpox infection.  The initial test of their hypothesis was based on developing viral peptide "megapools," or reagents designed to detect T cell reactivity to mpox antigens. The experiments further showed that these megapools can be used to accurately detect specific T cells.

LJI release