China develops mRNA vaccines for monkeypox

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China develops mRNA vaccines for monkeypox

On Wednesday, Chinese drugmaker Sinopharm said it is developing three potential mRNA vaccines for monkeypox.

The company said in a statement that the experimental vaccines have been shown to evoke specific antibodies against monkeypox in mice.

The new vaccines are believed to be safer and capable of inducing neutralizing antibodies that can prevent infection faster, compared to attenuated virus vaccines, which are currently available.

The research is being led by Yang Xiaoming, chairman of the China National Biotech Group, a unit administered by Sinopharm. The results of research were published on Tuesday on BioRxiv, a preprint platform.

The release of these data has filled a gap in monkeypox-specific vaccines based on mRNA technology and helps prepare for the possible spread of the monkeypox virus, Sinopharm said.

The company made a key step in vaccine development in late October when it announced that it had successfully isolated monkeypox virus strains from clinical samples of infected patients.

Before reaching the public, developing new vaccines usually requires years of research and clinical trials.

Animal studies and three phases of human trials are some of the prerequisites for market approval in China.

The mRNA technology behind vaccine candidates contains genetic instructions for cells to make viral proteins that prime the immune system.

Since the COVID-19 epidemic, messenger RNA vaccines attracted considerable interest for their high efficacy and safety despite being a relatively novel tool.

China is developing homegrown COVID-19 vaccines using mRNA technology, but no injections have gained approval so far.

Because smallpox vaccines can provide some immunity against monkeypox, smallpox and smallpox are highly similar in genome composition and their antibodies have shown significant cross-protection, it is widely believed that smallpox vaccines can provide some immunity against monkeypox.

There are three smallpox vaccines available in the world. One of these, called Jynneos, was approved for monkeypox around 2019 and is being deployed in some regions to fight monkeypox outbreaks.

On July 23 the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency after a large number of non-endemic countries, including the United States and some in Europe, experienced surging cases from early May.

The mainland reported its first imported monkeypox case on 16 September in an incoming passenger arriving in Chongqing in Southwest China.

So far, no other infections have been registered.