Inhaled anthrax vaccine tested in animals

Sep 1, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – US Army and private researchers have developed a powdered anthrax vaccine that looks promising in initial animal studies and could eliminate the need for needle injections, according to the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The vaccine, designed for nasal inhalation, may offer a faster and easier way to protect both civilians and soldiers in case of an anthrax attack, the ACS said in a news release. The vaccine was described Aug 25 at the ACS's annual meeting in Philadelphia.

The standard anthrax vaccine, which is required for US military personnel in high-risk regions, involves six injections over 18 months, followed by annual boosters.

The powdered vaccine is a joint project of BD Technologies, Research Triangle Park, N.C., and the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Md., the ACS reported. The vaccine uses a recombinant form of anthrax protective antigen (rPA) and can be self-administered with a disposable delivery device.

In laboratory tests, rabbits that were given the vaccine and then exposed to a lethal dose of anthrax had survival rates of 83% to 100%, according to the ACS. More animal studies are needed before the vaccine is tested in humans, but human trials could start within 2 to 3 years.

Vince Sullivan, PhD, the lead investigator on the project, said, "Our intranasal powder vaccine discovery may provide a highly effective, more flexible, mobile and easy-to-use method of administering the anthrax vaccine in clinical and field settings." Sullivan is a chemist with BD Technologies.

Initial data indicate that the powdered formulation of rPA is more stable than the liquid version and can withstand a wider range of temperatures, allowing it to be stockpiled for longer periods and in more extreme conditions without refrigeration, the ACS said.

Researchers don't know yet how many doses or what size dose of the new vaccine will be required, according to the release.

See also:

ACS news release on Eurekalert

Mar 12, 2004, CIDRAP News story, "HHS to buy up to 75 million doses of new anthrax vaccine"

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