Vaccinia viruses: vaccines against smallpox and vectors against infectious diseases and tumors

Expert Rev Vaccines. 2011 Aug;10(8):1221-40. doi: 10.1586/erv.11.79.


Less than 200 years after its introduction, widespread use of vaccinia virus (VACV) as a smallpox vaccine has eradicated variola virus. Along with the remarkable success of the vaccination program, frequent and sometimes severe adverse reactions to VACV were encountered. After eradication, VACV has been reserved for select populations who might be at significant risk for orthopoxvirus infections. Events over the past decade have renewed concerns over the potential use of variola virus as a biological weapon. Accordingly, interest in VACV and attenuated derivatives has increased, both as vaccines against smallpox and as vectors for other vaccines. This article will focus on new developments in the field of orthopoxvirus immunization and will highlight recent advances in the use of vaccinia viruses as vectors for infectious diseases and malignancies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Poxviridae Infections / immunology*
  • Poxviridae Infections / prevention & control*
  • Smallpox Vaccine / adverse effects
  • Smallpox Vaccine / chemical synthesis
  • Smallpox Vaccine / immunology*
  • Vaccinia virus / genetics
  • Vaccinia virus / immunology*


  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Smallpox Vaccine