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Jefferson researchers building a better rabies vaccine

passage" the virus through mice. That is, they inject it into the animals, recover it, and then put into a second mouse. This is repeated at least five times. Five generations, Dr. Dietzschold explains, is usually enough to see whether the virus will either mutate and turn dangerous, or show genetic stability.

The research team has tested the current virus in 10 passages in mice, and it remained safe while retaining its potency. Dr. Dietzschold notes that the likelihood of a mutation occurring is extremely low. While different varieties of rabies virus exist, they maintain enough similarities in the all-important outer glycoprotein, that a vaccine that takes advantage of immune reactions to this protein can be effective.

Dr. Dietzschold explains that the current wildlife rabies vaccine used in the United States is ineffective in a chief carrier: skunks. The vaccine developed by his team is much broader, showing efficacy in such animals as raccoon, skunk and mongoose. One of the problems with current vaccines is the fact that several varieties are used, depending on the particular species of animal. The scientists hope their vaccine will prove useful for rabies prevention in several species.

The newer virus and vaccine currently are being evaluated by Molecular Targeting Technologies, Inc., of West Chester, Pa. The researchers are asking for permission from the United States Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency to perform field trials. These would entail placing food baits containing the vaccine in the wild, then later capturing and testing animals for antibodies against the rabies virus.


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Source:Thomas Jefferson University


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