Scientists bid to develop anthrax vaccine to counteract world bioterrorism threat

September 17, 2012

A team of Cardiff University scientists is leading new research to develop a vaccine against anthrax to help counteract the threat of bioterrorism.

Working with scientists from the Republic of Georgia, Turkey and the USA, Professor Les Baillie from Cardiff University's School of Pharmacy and is leading a NATO project to tackle the potential misuse of anthrax.

"Currently the majority of the world's population is susceptible to infection with the bacterium which causes anthrax," according to Professor Baillie, who leads the multi-national .

"The US postal attacks in 2001 highlighted the vulnerability of civilian populations and brought home the need to develop effective, rapid, robust medical countermeasures to combat the threat posed by terrorist use of this organism," he added.

It is the growing concern over the threat posed by bioterrorism that has prompted world authorities like NATO through its Science for Peace and Security Programme to support efforts to develop more effective vaccines and medical countermeasures.

Efforts have so far been hampered by the fact that cases of naturally acquired human infection are rare in NATO countries. As a consequence, researchers have been forced to employ animal models to develop new vaccines.

The problem with this approach is the immune responses of animals and humans differ and as a consequence human clinical trials represent an essential element in confirming the efficacy of any new vaccine.

Such trials require access to several thousand volunteers at risk of infection and as such would be almost impossible to perform in Western Europe or the US.

In contrast anthrax represents a significant disease of animals and humans in the Cacuses and Central Asia. For this reason researchers from the UK and US have joined with colleagues from Turkey and the former Soviet republic of Georgia to tackle the problem.

Professor Baillie added: "These unique resources, combined with the expertise of NATO researchers offers us an unparalleled opportunity."

The outputs of this study are expected to underpin the development of future vaccines capable of conferring broad-spectrum, robust protection following minimal dosing.

Such vaccines would impact on two levels, locally they would directly improve the life of workers at risk of contracting anthrax such as farmers, and globally they would contribute to the protection of citizens from the use of as an agent of bio-terrorism.

An additional benefit of this work will be the establishment of a research centre in Georgia which will support infectious disease research and ultimately improve the lives of all of the people in the region.

Explore further: Anthrax capsule vaccine protects monkeys from lethal infection

Related Stories

Anthrax capsule vaccine protects monkeys from lethal infection

January 12, 2012
a naturally occurring component of the bacterium that causes the disease—protected monkeys from lethal anthrax infection, according to U.S. Army scientists. The study, which appears in the Jan. 20th print edition of ...

Researchers identify potential target for anthrax drug

May 9, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers at the University of Michigan have identified new targets for drugs that could potentially treat anthrax, the deadly infection caused by Bacillus anthracis.

Georgia sees more anthrax cases

June 22, 2012
(AP) — At least 30 people in Georgia have contracted anthrax this year, prompting authorities to step up safety measures, medical officials said Friday.

Recommended for you

Molecular hitchhiker on human protein signals tumors to self-destruct

July 24, 2017
Powerful molecules can hitch rides on a plentiful human protein and signal tumors to self-destruct, a team of Vanderbilt University engineers found.

Researchers develop new method to generate human antibodies

July 24, 2017
An international team of scientists has developed a method to rapidly produce specific human antibodies in the laboratory. The technique, which will be described in a paper to be published July 24 in The Journal of Experimental ...

New vaccine production could improve flu shot accuracy

July 24, 2017
A new way of producing the seasonal flu vaccine could speed up the process and provide better protection against infection.

A sodium surprise: Engineers find unexpected result during cardiac research

July 20, 2017
Irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising ...

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.