Study launched to find out more about mpox immunity

Graham Robson May 3, 2023

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), supported by the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, has launched a study to better understand how the body reacts to the mpox (monkeypox) virus and produces antibodies.

People will be invited by the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London to take part in the LIMIT (Longitudinal Immunology of Mpox virus InfecTion) study which involves a simple questionnaire and a series of postal antibody tests. Researchers will compare people’s antibody levels, after an mpox vaccination, mpox infection or both, over 12 months to see what antibody reaction each produces and how long they last for.

Mpox case numbers have remained low in 2023 but the UK remains committed to reducing, and ultimately eliminating, mpox transmission. Research has an important role to play in this, informing understanding and influencing future outbreak responses as well as providing knowledge that can be shared with scientists around the world to decrease the global burden of the virus.

The work builds on previous research by UKHSA, which found one dose of the mpox vaccine offers 78% protection against the virus from 14 days after receiving it providing strong protection for those at highest risk from mpox who are eligible.

According to UKHSA, vaccination has played a “crucial role” in protecting people from the mpox virus and reducing case numbers. People who are eligible but have not yet received two doses of the vaccine are being encouraged to book their first dose by 16 June 2023 and their second dose by the end of July 2023.

Dr Claire Gordon, Consultant in Infection at UKHSA, said: “Alongside the many health professionals and third sector organisations that sprang into action when the first mpox case was identified almost a year ago, researchers around the world responded rapidly to build our collective knowledge so we could tackle the outbreak.

“We’re now seeing very few new cases of mpox in the UK but their work continues. The knowledge gained from this study will help us reach our ultimate goal of eliminating mpox transmission in the UK as well as strengthening our work to prevent or limit any future outbreaks.

“We already know vaccination is key to reducing the severity of symptoms and preventing further transmission so I would urge everyone eligible to come forward for both doses so they have maximum long lasting protection.”

The LIMIT study is partly funded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and will be led by scientists at the UKHSA’s Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory (RIPL) and Emerging Pathogen Serology (EPS) Laboratory.