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

that is reported to be 93 percent effective, according to the CDC. After the 2001 anthrax attacks, the federal government required vaccination for military personnel deployed in high-risk areas. The FDA-approved vaccine is given as an injection and must be administered in three doses, scheduled two weeks apart. Then, to remain effective, booster shots must be given at six, 12 and 18 months, and then again each year after for maximum protection, according to the CDC.

"Unfortunately, to make this vaccine work, you have to administer boosters," explained Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology at New York University Medical Center, and author of Protect Yourself Against Bioterrorism. And, the need for boosters isn't always practical in military situations, he said.

Anthrax can be deadly, because it secretes three toxic proteins: protective antigen (PA), lethal factor (LF) and edema factor (EF). Interrupting the action of any of these proteins can provide protection against anthrax. Tierno said the FDA-approved vaccine relies on disrupting PA's action.

In an attempt to simplify the vaccine procedure, so it could be administered nasally and without the need for so many booster shots, the University of Rochester researchers "detoxified" the lethal factor, creating what they called mutant lethal factor (mLF). Then they combined mLF with PA and tested each component and the two together on mice.

When exposed to 100 times the lethal dose of anthrax, 60 percent of the mice immunized with PA survived, and 30 percent of those given mLF alone survived. Yet, the mice given the combination vaccine were completely protected.

"There seems to be a synergy with the use of PA and mLF that is even better than either alone," Tierno said.

Zeng said the next step for the Rochester researchers is to test the experimental vaccine in other animals to be sure it's safe and effective. Then, they hope to get
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