Poxviruses are large double stranded DNA viruses affecting invertebrate (insect) and vertebrate hosts that replicate in the cytoplasm of the infected cell. The most famous member of the Poxviridae likely is variola virus, the causative agent of smallpox. After a worldwide vaccination programme with the closely related vaccinia virus, smallpox was eradicated world-wide in 1978.
The genus Orthopoxvirus of the Chordopoxvirinae contains species including variola virus, vaccinia virus, and cowpox virus. Attenuated poxviruses such as modified Vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) are currently being developed as vector vaccines for use against diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, AIDS and hepatits B.
Our goal is to develop tools that allow an easy manipulation of Cowpox virus sequences. These techniques shall be used to characterize Cowpox virus genes and to develop new Orthopoxvirus based vector vaccines.