reliminary positive results. Rabies is not only a public health problem that causes more than 60,000 human deaths per year worldwide but also caused a tremendous economic burden. In the United States alone, more than $1 billion are spent annually for control, treatment and prevention of rabies."
Using "bioreactor technology," a sophisticated cell culture system, scientists at MTTI produced large amounts of vaccine easily and inexpensively a key, says Dr. Dietzschold, to mass production.
One of the problems with current vaccines is that fact that several varieties are used, depending on the particular species of animal. Jefferson and MTTI scientists hope their vaccine will prove useful for rabies prevention in several species. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta currently is testing the effectiveness of the vaccine in raccoons, dogs, skunks and mongoose over the next six months.
The next step, Dr. Dietzschold says, is field trials of the vaccine. In such trials, animals would be given food baits with vaccine, then later captured and tested for rabies antibodies. He notes that some 70 percent of an animal population in an area needs to have sufficient antibodies to control the spread of the disease.
As scientists continue to better understand the specific ways the vaccine confers immunity, it will be possible to improve the vaccine's potency, obtaining immunity with a minimal dose, he says.
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