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SLU Tests New Smallpox Vaccine

By Kevin Lavery, KWMU

St. Louis – Researchers at Saint Louis University are testing a new type of smallpox vaccine that they hope can be given to people with compromised immune systems.

The vaccine, known as MVA-BN, is a weaker form of the current vaccine called Dryvax.

People who are HIV-positive, undergoing chemotherapy or have certain skin conditions cannot safely take Dryvax.

Dr. Sharon Frey with the St. Louis University Center for Vaccine Development says that's why her team is testing the alternative vaccine.

"So therefore, we may be able to give it to people who otherwise may not have qualified for Dryvax," Frey said. "In other words, the side effects are hoped to be less than what we've seen with the currently approved smallpox vaccine."

The smallpox testing is part of a federal program to safeguard the nation against a possible biological attack. St. Louis University is the only testing site for this vaccine in the U.S.