Combating Anthrax: Researchers Look for a Better Vaccine

A new study published this month by a Saint Louis University vaccine researcher scrutinizes what in the future could be an alternative to the presently available anthrax vaccine.

This new type of anthrax vaccine produced the immune response doctors were looking for, according to peer-reviewed research published in Vaccine.

In its first human testing, the vaccine was given to 100 volunteers at four sites around the United States, said Geoffrey Gorse, MD, a Saint Louis University researcher who was the main author of the paper.

"This type of research, five years after 9/11, continues to be very important to pursue, Gorse said. We need a better vaccine to help protect people from anthrax infection, whether the vaccine is given before or soon after exposure to anthrax spores.

Gorse added that the study was able to answer some important questions about this candidate vaccine.

We were able to demonstrate in this study that the investigational anthrax vaccine produced an immune response that justifies further testing in larger studies, he said. We'll be using this data to help design strategies for testing of this vaccine in the future."

Gorse indicated that the investigational vaccine, made by VaxGen Inc., demonstrated a clear relationship between the amount of vaccine administered and the subsequent immune response.

The study was designed to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of escalating doses of the new vaccine. A total of 100 healthy adults were randomized to receive either one of four different vaccine formulations, or AVA, the anthrax vaccine currently licensed for use in the United States. All vaccinations were administered intramuscularly.

Gorse, along with colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, JohnsHopkinsUniversity and VaxGen, conducted the research.

The Phase I study was funded by VaxGens contract N01-AI-25494 with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The vaccine is a recombinant Protective Antigen (PA) protein vaccine that was initially developed by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). This vaccine cannot cause anthrax infection.

Source: Saint Louis University Medical Center    

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