New type of anthrax vaccine moves into larger-scale trial at Saint Louis University

ST. LOUIS - A potentially safer vaccine to protect against anthrax is moving into a larger-scale clinical trial following a successful pilot study conducted at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and three other sites.

Researchers at Saint Louis University's Center for Vaccine Development and its clinical research organization, SoLUtions, are preparing to conduct a phase II human study of a new investigational anthrax vaccine developed by VaxGen Inc.

"The goal is to develop an anthrax vaccine with better protection, an improved safety profile and a simpler dosing schedule," said Geoffrey J. Gorse, M.D., principal investigator for the study and professor of internal medicine at Saint Louis University.

VaxGen Inc., a California-based biotechnology company, is sponsoring the vaccine development and study through an accelerated program funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Gorse said a total of 480 healthy volunteers at twelve sites around the United States, ages 18 to 55 years old, will be recruited for the study. The SoLUtions clinical research staff of Saint Louis University will provide volunteer recruitment and subject management.

Anthrax, caused by a spore-forming bacteria, is an ancient disease of animals and humans. Domestic sheep, cattle, goats and wild herbivores have been frequent victims of the disease. Those who handle infected animals also are at-risk.

Anthrax may be suitable for use in biological weapons because of the ease of spore production, the stability of the anthrax spores and the ability to aerosolize them. In 2001, five people developed fatal cases of anthrax after inhaling anthrax spores sent through the U.S. mail, spurring the U.S. government to develop an improved anthrax vaccine.

In humans, anthrax infection takes three basic forms: cutan

Contact: Joe Muehlenkamp
Saint Louis University

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