Why does smallpox vaccine shield some, not others? It's in the genes, study finds

April 18, 2013

How well people are protected by the smallpox vaccine depends on more than the quality of the vaccination: individual genes can alter their response, Mayo Clinic research shows. The findings, gathered using sophisticated genomic screening, appear in today's online issue of the journal Genes and Immunity.

"We were looking into the intercellular reactions that occur when vaccinated and unvaccinated persons are exposed to and infected with . We were able to use blood samples taken directly from vaccinated patients," says senior author Gregory Poland, M.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Group. "We could see what would happen based on exposing a mixed-cell peripheral blood to the vaccinia virus."

While worldwide vaccination is believed to have eradicated smallpox, the highly contagious and sometimes fatal illness remains a bioterrorism concern.

Researchers studied 44 participants from Mayo Clinic and the Naval Health Research Center who had received the in the previous 48 months. Two samples were prepared from each of the 44, one uninfected and one that was infected with vaccinia, a smallpox-like virus. RNA (ribonucleic acid, molecules that represent the DNA makeup) from the samples was then tested in the high-speed sequencing facilities at Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine. were found between people with robust protective antibodies and those with lower immunity from smallpox.

Dr. Poland says this individualized medicine approach and its findings offer researchers new targets for developing tests to determine if a person should receive a specific vaccine, but also an opportunity to develop new vaccines to benefit non-responders.

Explore further: Man who got smallpox vaccine passes milder infection to sex partner

Related Stories

Man who got smallpox vaccine passes milder infection to sex partner

February 28, 2013
(HealthDay)—A man recently vaccinated for smallpox under a U.S. Defense Department program passed a milder, related form of the disease on to a man he had sex with, and that man then passed it on to yet another man, federal ...

Mayo Clinic physician: Mistaken fear of measles shot has 'devastating' effect

August 30, 2011
More than 150 cases of measles have been reported in the United States already this year and there have been similar outbreaks in Europe, a sign the disease is making an alarming comeback. The reappearance of the potentially ...

Recommended for you

Scientists provide insight into genetic basis of neuropsychiatric disorders

July 21, 2017
A study by scientists at the Children's Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) is providing insight into the genetic basis of neuropsychiatric disorders. In this research, the first mouse model of a mutation ...

Scientists identify new way cells turn off genes

July 19, 2017
Cells have more than one trick up their sleeve for controlling certain genes that regulate fetal growth and development.

South Asian genomes could be boon for disease research, scientists say

July 18, 2017
The Indian subcontinent's massive population is nearing 1.5 billion according to recent accounts. But that population is far from monolithic; it's made up of nearly 5,000 well-defined sub-groups, making the region one of ...

Mutant yeast reveals details of the aberrant genomic machinery of children's high-grade gliomas

July 18, 2017
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital biologists have used engineered yeast cells to discover how a mutation that is frequently found in pediatric brain tumor high-grade glioma triggers a cascade of genomic malfunctions.

Late-breaking mutations may play an important role in autism

July 17, 2017
A study of nearly 6,000 families, combining three genetic sequencing technologies, finds that mutations that occur after conception play an important role in autism. A team led by investigators at Boston Children's Hospital ...

Newly identified genetic marker may help detect high-risk flu patients

July 17, 2017
Researchers have discovered an inherited genetic variation that may help identify patients at elevated risk for severe, potentially fatal influenza infections. The scientists have also linked the gene variant to a mechanism ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.