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HHS announces contracts for developing a new anthrax vaccine

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has awarded two companies contracts designed to spur development of a new anthrax vaccine. The two contracts total $22.5 million through Fiscal Year 2003.

"There is an urgent need to devise more effective measures to protect U.S. citizens from the harmful effects of anthrax spores used as instruments of terror," said Secretary Thompson. "These awards represent the first step toward our goal of securing an initial 25 million doses of an improved anthrax vaccine for our emergency stockpile."

"Vaccines are the best method of protecting the public against infectious diseases," said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "At NIAID, one of our top priorities is to work with industry to create new and improved vaccines against possible agents of bioterrorism. These vaccines must be suitable for civilian populations of varying ages and health status. In addition, the vaccines must be safe, easy to administer, and capable of inducing an immediate protective immune response."

The currently licensed anthrax vaccine, administered almost exclusively to military personnel, must be given in six doses over 18 months. The new vaccine will be required to provide immunity to inhalation anthrax in three or fewer doses, which is expected to reduce the administration time. It is hoped that a quicker administration time and other technological improvements would allow the vaccine to protect individuals from anthrax spores even if the vaccine was given shortly after exposure.

The companies awarded contracts today are Avecia, of Manchester, United Kingdom, and VaxGen Inc., of Brisbane, California.

Under the terms of the contracts, the companies will base their vaccine candidates on a promising vaccine concept. The vaccine will contain the protective antigen of the anthrax bacterium, which will be produced with recombinant DNA techno
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Contact: Jeff Minerd
jminerd@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
3-Oct-2002


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