SAN ANTONIO – Much like it has with other infectious diseases in helping develop diagnostic tests, treatments and vaccines, the Texas Biomedical Institute is ramping up its research into monkeypox.
“We are in a mode of reacting to what is a growing outbreak,” said Larry Schlesinger, president and CEO of Texas Biomed.
He said the monkeypox virus is now being grown in high containment laboratories.
After making sure it’s the authentic virus, Schlesinger said the research will begin by possibly using its primates, much like its animal models who helped develop one of the first Covid-19 vaccines.
“What’s most important is that the models recapitulate what we see in humans,” he said.
Schlesinger said currently the two monkeypox vaccines that he calls “relatives of the smallpox vaccine,” are effective, but they’re “not pleasant.”
He said there can be localized pain, and the injection could result in some ulcerations.
“It would be great if we had more options,” Schlesinger said, but it will take time.
Schlesinger said when it comes to infectious diseases, “I think we need a new agenda where we’re much more proactive in building our public health infrastructure, our education programs, and developing a much more robust and financially sustainable pipeline for new therapies and vaccines way ahead of cases.”
He said it’s going to take the kind of transformation that Texas Biomed has led by working with public and private agencies working globally to solve “growing infectious disease threats.”
Schlesinger said Texas Biomed is trying to broaden its stockpile of new therapies and vaccines.
The most recent was the role it played in the new Novavax vaccine against Covid-19.
“We are the prime collaborator with Novavax,” he said.
By using its models, Schlesinger said, “Our vaccine is safe and effective. And I’m really happy it’s now available to the public.”