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Anthrax capsule vaccine protects monkeys from lethal infection
Date:1/12/2012

Vaccination with the anthrax capsulea naturally occurring component of the bacterium that causes the diseaseprotected monkeys from lethal anthrax infection, according to U.S. Army scientists. The study, which appears in the Jan. 20th print edition of the journal VACCINE, represents the first successful use of a non-toxin vaccine to protect monkeys from the disease.

Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax, is recognized as one of the most serious bioterrorism threats. It produces three main components that allow it to do harmlethal toxin, edema toxin, and the capsule. During anthrax infection, the bacterium invades and grows to high concentrations in the host. The capsule surrounds the bacterium and prevents it from being ingested and destroyed by the white blood cells, thus allowing anthrax infection to progress. The toxins are thought to act mainly by damaging the body's natural defense mechanisms.

Current human vaccines for anthrax are based on the protective antigen, or PA, component of the anthrax toxins. Scientists at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) have extensively studied protective antigen, demonstrating that PA alone confers protection in animal challenge studies with both rabbits and monkeys.

However, according to senior author Arthur M. Friedlander of USAMRIID, concerns about reliance on a single antigenas well as the issue of protecting against anthrax strains that may be vaccine resistanthave prompted the search for additional vaccine components. Bacterial capsules are commonly used in licensed vaccines for other diseases, including certain types of pneumonia and meningitis.

Friedlander's group had already demonstrated, in published mouse studies, that the anthrax capsule plays a role in conferring protection. In their current work, the team describes testing the capsule vaccine in both rabbits and monkeys against an aerosol challenge with anthrax
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Contact: Caree Vander Linden
caree.vanderlinden@us.army.mil
301-619-2285
US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
Source:Eurekalert

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