(KMOV) – Saint Louis University researchers are looking into a new, single-dose smallpox vaccine that could help prevent infection from a bioterrorist attack.
SLU researchers will study IMVAMUNE(r), a single injection of high-dose vaccine, according to SLU’s press release on the subject. It is injected into the skin, as opposed to traditional methods that call for two, low-dose injections that are pricked into the skin and leave small scars.
Researchers say it could make a life and death decision in case smallpox is released into the public.
"If there is a smallpox outbreak, getting people vaccinated as quickly as possible will be a matter of urgency. Giving a single injection of a much stronger vaccine could allow us to protect people much more quickly, when time is of the essence,” said Sharon Frey, M.D., principal investigator and professor of infectious diseases at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
While the high-dose vaccine has not yet been tested in people, studies in animals showed the vaccine to be well-tolerated, according to researchers.
The research will be conducted at Saint Louis University's Center for Vaccine Development and the University of Iowa. A total of 90 volunteers will be enrolled at the two study sites. Half of the study volunteers will be given the high-dose version of IMVAMUNE(r) and half the standard dose. Both groups will receive injections at the first visit and 28 days later, according to researchers.
Smallpox is a potentially fatal and highly contagious infectious disease, estimated to have killed between 300 million and 500 million people in the first half of the 20th century alone. Vaccinations against smallpox were routinely given in the United States until 1971, and the world was declared free of smallpox in 1980.
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