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Needle-free anthrax vaccine shows promise in animal studies

ional animal studies are needed, but clinical trials could be possible within the next two to three years, investigators say.

In laboratory tests using rabbits exposed to a lethal dose of inhalation anthrax, nasal immunization with the powder resulted in an 83 to 100 percent survival rate, similar to the protection offered by the injectable formulation, according to a key researcher on the project, Ge Jiang, Ph.D., a pharmaceutical scientist with BD Technologies.

Initial data indicates that the powdered formulation of the rPA antigen, a genetically engineered protein, is also more stable than the liquid version and can withstand wider temperature extremes, allowing it to be stockpiled for longer periods and in more extreme conditions without the need for refrigeration, the researchers say.

Conventional anthrax vaccines, derived from Bacillus anthracis bacteria, require six doses over the course of an 18-month period, with annual booster injections recommended thereafter. It is not yet known how many times and at what dose the new vaccine will need to be administered to maintain protection, the researchers say, adding that this issue is being investigated.

"This is not a cure for anthrax, but may be a better means of protecting at-risk populations from infection," Sullivan explains.

Anthrax vaccine administration is now mandatory for military personnel sent to areas with high risk of exposure and recommended for other groups, including some laboratory and postal workers.

Inhalation anthrax can be fatal if untreated. Doctors currently provide antibiotics once infection has occurred, but treatment must be initiated early to be effective. In addition to improving prevention methods, researchers are continuing to try to develop better drugs to block the deadly bacterium once a person has been exposed.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization, chartered by the U.S. Congress, with a multidisc
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25-Aug-2004


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