In their study, the Einstein scientists focused on the protein toxin used in the current vaccine, looking for the smallest protein sections (known as peptides) that could trigger the production of protective antibodies when injected into animals.
The researchers injected the current vaccine into mice and recovered six different "pure" strains of antibodies known as monoclonal antibodies. They then mixed each type of antibody with the 145 peptides formed by chopping up the vaccine protein. The researchers looked for peptides that were "recognized by" (became bound to) an antibody an indication that those particular peptides might themselves be able to stimulate the production of protective antibodies on their own.
Ultimately, the researchers found that two of the 145 peptides fit the bill: Each peptide elicited antibodies when injected into mice, and these antibodies protected macrophages from death that would normally have occurred when the macrophages were exposed to anthrax toxin. (Macrophages are protective white blood cells involved in the body's immune response to foreign invaders.) The next step in the Einstein research will be to inject the peptides into an animal model to see if the peptides can protect against anthrax infection.
"An ideal anthrax vaccine contains only the proteins needed to provide protection against disease, and none of the extraneous protein material that triggers the adverse reactions caused by the current vaccine," says Dr. Abboud
|Contact: Deirdre Branley|
Albert Einstein College of Medicine