Two seed aliquots of the Modified Vaccinia Ankara Virus (MVA) were delivered on Monday (09/05) at the Vaccine Technology Center (CT Vacinas) at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG). The biological material arrived in Brazil on Friday (09/02), at Confins airport, in Minas Gerais. The action is supported by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations (MCTI) through RedeVírus MCTI. This is a first step for Brazil to be able to start research for the production in the national territory of an anti-smallpox vaccine, which works against monkeypox.
CT Vacinas is in the process of being transformed into a National Center for Technologies in Vaccines MCTI, resulting from an agreement signed in 2021 between the ministerial portfolio and UFMG. The measure will expand Brazilian capacity in vaccine development.
The biological material was donated by the National Institutes of Health (NHI), a medical research agency in the United States, to CT Vacinas at UFMG through a Clinical Material Transfer Agreement (CMTA). .
The seeds of the vaccine virus, as they are technically called, will be used to produce batches of vaccine to carry out pre-clinical and clinical tests in Brazil. The steps are part of the vaccine development process. The material is also a starting point for the national development of the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (IFA), which is the raw material for the production of vaccines against smallpox (monkeypox). The clinical studies that will be carried out in the country will also contribute to confirm the effectiveness of the use of MVA as a vaccine virus for human beings in the context of the monkeypox outbreak.
CTVacinas will receive the lot and will work in partnership with the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), through the Institute of Technology in Immunobiologicals (Biomanguinhos). Each aliquot contains 0.2ml of the ultrapure virus that was produced using good manufacturing and laboratory practices, that is, able to serve as a basis for the production of material that can be inoculated into human beings.
The researchers specializing in smallpox and responsible for research at the two institutions are part of the MCTI Network and will use the biological material to initiate research to evaluate the use of the vaccine against the monkeypox virus. Working together involves defining protocols and processes.
The initiative is one of the actions defined as a priority by the Brazilian researchers who are part of the CâmaraPOX MCTI. Formed in May of this year, the group formed by eight Brazilian researchers specializing in smallpox and other poxviruses advises the MCTI on the subject in relation to research, development and innovation.
The support of RedeVírus MCTI, through past funding that promotes research in the area of emerging and re-emerging viruses since 2020, allowed establishing the conditions for members of the POX Chamber to request the virus, incorporation, negotiations for production in Brazil.
Smallpox – Smallpox was eradicated in the world in the 1970s through vaccine action coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO). At the time, MVA, which is a kind of ‘cousin’ of smallpox, was one of the viruses used in immunization programs. According to experts, few laboratories in the world have this virus, which is the basis for 3rd generation vaccines. The MVA was modified in Germany through ‘passage’, at least 500 times, in hen’s eggs so that it was completely attenuated, that is, it underwent mutations capable of making the virus adapted to the avian host, but which made it incapable of replicate productively in humans and other mammals. These changes allow that, when applied to the human body in the form of a vaccine, the virus produces antigens (induces an immune response), but is unable to replicate. It is the same principle of the vaccine that uses the adenovirus as a base, used for the production of vaccines to combat Covid-19.
MCTI Network Virus – RedeVírus MCTI was established in February 2020, even before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic. The committee provides technical-scientific advice to the MCTI on the strategies and needs in the area of science, technology and innovation needed in the health area. The Network is organized into sub-networks that include the development of tests for diagnosis, sequencing and genomic monitoring, vaccine development, epidemiological monitoring of animals and wastewater.
CT Vaccines – CT-Vaccinas is a biotechnology research center focused on the development of new technologies linked to the production of diagnostic kits and vaccines against human and veterinary diseases. It is also the headquarters of the National Institute of Vaccine Science and Technology.
CT Vacinas conducts research to develop vaccines against diseases such as leishmaniasis, malaria, Chagas disease and Covid-19. The Covid-19 vaccine, SpiN-Tec, which received funding from the MCTI, awaits authorization from the Brazilian regulatory body to start clinical trials. The malaria vaccine, which is also supported by the MCTI, awaits safety tests, one of the last prerequisites before clinical trials.
Source: Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations