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UTSA microbiologist Karl Klose receives Department of Defense contract to study tularemia
Date:8/13/2014

Microbiologist Karl Klose, a professor in the UTSA College of Sciences' Department of Biology and a member of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, has received a contract from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to conduct research that would bring scholars one step closer to developing a vaccine against tularemia. The funding, from the DOD's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, is one of the largest contracts UTSA has received this year for its research in infectious disease, recognized by scholars to be among the top programs in the country.

Tularemia or rabbit fever, caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis, is highly infectious, even fatal, when introduced in the lungs. As a result, it has been developed as a bioweapon by several countries around the world.

Generally, F. tularensis is found in infected animals, such as rabbits, as well as in insects and ticks. While human infections are infrequent, those that do occur are difficult to diagnose because they are rarely seen and recognized by clinicians.

There is currently no vaccine that is approved for human use in the United States.

"Natural cases of tularemia are very rare. However the use of Francisella tularensis as a bioweapon could be devastating because it takes very little of the bacterium to cause an infection," said Klose. "This research will help us get closer to creating a vaccine for tularemia that would protect humans from its illicit use."

Over many years, Klose and his UTSA collaborators have identified a way to create a tularemia vaccine from a live bacterium that has been rendered harmless, but which protects against pulmonary tularemia infection, much like how flu vaccines work. However, this vaccine candidate needs to be refined to optimize the protection it provides against tularemia and to advance the research to translational studies. Klose will partner with Dr. Robert Sherwood at the Lovelace Re
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Contact: Kris Rodriguez
kris.rodriguez@utsa.edu
210-458-5116
University of Texas at San Antonio
Source:Eurekalert  

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UTSA microbiologist Karl Klose receives Department of Defense contract to study tularemia
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