September 4, 2009 - (BRONX, NY) - Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have identified two small protein fragments that could be developed into an anthrax vaccine that may cause fewer side effects than the current vaccine.
The research is significant because anthrax is considered a major bioterrorism threat. The current anthrax vaccine is intended mainly for members of the armed forces serving in areas considered high risk and for individuals involved in homeland biosecurity.
"Our research was motivated by the fact that the current anthrax vaccine has significant limitations and there is great need for a better one," says lead author Nareen Abboud, Ph.D., an Einstein postdoctoral fellow and lead author of the study, which appears in the current issue of The Journal of Biological Chemistry. The study's senior author is Arturo Casadevall, M.D., Ph.D., Leo and Julia Forchheimer Professor and chairman of microbiology & immunology.
Anthrax, a disease caused by the bacterial species Bacillus anthracis, occurs when anthrax spores (the microbe's dormant stage) are inhaled, ingested or enter the body through an open wound. Anthrax is a common disease among grazing animals such as cows, goats, and sheep but can also result from bioterrorism.
Eighty to 90 percent of people infected through inhalation will die if not treated, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2001, five people died after inhaling anthrax spores contained in envelopes mailed to U.S. lawmakers and media personnel. Typical treatment post-exposure includes the antibiotics ciprofloxacin, doxycycline and penicillin.
Anthrax results in part from toxic proteins, or toxins, that the multiplying bacteria secrete. The current anthrax vaccine employs one of these proteins, which elicits protective antibodies when injected into people.
While this 40-year-old vaccine can prevent di
|Contact: Deirdre Branley|
Albert Einstein College of Medicine