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Researchers Pursuing Nasal Anthrax Vaccine
Date:4/10/2008

Mice given combination version of immunization survived exposure, study reports,,,,

THURSDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- American researchers have developed a nasal spray anthrax vaccine that provides protection against the potentially deadly bacterium, at least in mice.

By "detoxifying" and combining two of anthrax's lethal toxins, the researchers were able to develop a vaccine that appears to be more effective than vaccines that contain just one altered version of an anthrax toxin.

"This study is an early stage study," said one of the authors, Mingtao Zeng, an assistant professor in the department of microbiology and immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. "It can be administered through the mucosa, and it generated an immune response and protected against anthrax. We're very excited about this."

Results of the study were published in the April issue of Clinical and Vaccine Immunology.

Anthrax is the infection caused by the naturally occurring bacterium Bacillus anthracis. These spore-forming bacteria are found in wild and domestic animals, such as camels, goats, sheep, cattle and deer. Spores can live in the soil for years. Naturally occurring anthrax infections are rare in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Anthrax can also be used as a bioterrorism weapon, as evidenced in 2001, when terrorists mailed letters containing anthrax spores to 22 U.S. men and women, five of whom died. Iraq's Saddam Hussein developed anthrax spore-filled weapons, and Boris Yeltsin said the former Soviet Union had an anthrax weapons program far larger than pre-war Iraq's, according to background information with the study.

Anthrax can be effectively treated with antibiotics, if the infection is caught in its early stages.

There is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved anthrax vaccination
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