Recombinant vaccinia viruses have been proposed as live vaccines against a variety of infectious diseases, including AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)1. Objections have been concerned primarily with side effects of the vaccinia virus vector itself. Recently it has been shown that inactivation of the vaccinia virus thymidine kinase gene or deletion of certain other non-essential genes is associated with a marked reduction in pathogenicity2. Nevertheless, the ability of vaccinia virus to produce a progressive infection in immunodeficient individuals remains a most serious problem. Indeed, an incident of this type in a vaccinated man seropositive for human immunodeficiency virus was recently reported3. We have used immunodeficient athymic nude mice to establish a model of disseminated vaccinia virus infection, and to demonstrate a novel approach to virus attenuation which involves insertion of a gene encoding human interleukin-2 into the genome of vaccinia virus vectors.
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