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Nose-spray vaccine against botulism effective in first tests
Date:1/8/2009

nd Immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, principal investigator and corresponding author of the study. "With these findings, we believe the design of a safe and inexpensive subunit vaccine can now proceed rapidly."

The study was in mice, but much of the evidence behind the current experimental vaccine was collected in animals as well. In a challenge common to many lines of vaccine research, it is "obviously unethical to test botulism vaccines in humans using the real pathogen."

Dangerous To Make

Without causing an actual infection, vaccines introduce weakened or detoxified versions of disease-related proteins to the immune system, which remembers to destroy them upon their next encounter.

Once researchers confirm the kind of immune response needed to achieve protection, they can choose for inclusion in a multi-component vaccine the key antigenic proteins that trigger the strongest immune response. The immune system reacts, not to the presence of a whole bacterium, but instead to specific proteins residing on its surface, or secreted by it, and which reveal its nature as an invader.

There is currently no licensed vaccine for protection against botulism. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the manufacture of an experimental, injectable vaccine consisting of detoxified versions of five types of BoNTs (serotype A, B, C, D, and E). The first step in its manufacture is to produce massive amounts of active toxins that are extremely dangerous to handle, adding greatly to cost and slowing the process.

Subunit vaccines like the one in the current study include nontoxic proteins that resemble those created by the bacteria, making them much safer to work with. A specific end-piece protein called heavy chain 50-kDa fragment (Hc50) has been identified as part of the mechanism that enables BoNT/C to enter the bloodstream. Once there, the toxin locks onto nerve endings in the brain
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Contact: Greg Williams
Greg_Williams@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-1757
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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