TTONIX-Logoonix Pharmaceuticals, a company that has a research lab in Frederick, is developing a vaccine to prepare for a future where the monkeypox virus is endemic outside of Africa.

To do that, the company is looking more than 200 years in the past.

The base infrastructure that Tonix researchers use to design vaccines for infectious diseases is based on a virus called horsepox. That’s the same virus Dr. Edward Jenner used when he started developing the first smallpox vaccine in 1796.

And the vaccine is still the most successful today, Tonix co-founder and CEO Dr. Seth Lederman said.

“It eradicated smallpox,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “And, we also learned, it kept monkeypox out of the human population.”

The reason people think monkeypox started spreading in Africa and eventually became endemic in some countries on the continent — 10, according to the World Health Organization — is because countries stopped vaccinating people against smallpox when the disease was eradicated, Lederman said.

Monkeypox and smallpox are closely related viruses. The two vaccines that have been approved for use against monkeypox — ACAM2000 and Jynneos — were initially developed for smallpox.

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