Research on a Vaccine for Anthrax
Current research, ongoing since the mid- to late-1990s, seeks to gain new knowledge of manufactured anthrax, its genetics and its pathogenesis.
Research scientists are also distorting a protein in anthrax that makes it so deadly. They hope that this will not only produce an effective antidote to inhalational anthrax, but also will minimize side effects – something that is inherent with currently available anti-anthrax vaccines.
In another research effort, the Institute for Genomic Research is developing a B anthracisopen reading frame array, which will enable researchers to monitor the individual genes in B anthracis and determine what contribution, if any, they make to the virulence of this particular anthrax strain.
Further, the anthrax genome could also be used to identify new vaccines that could prove effective against even the most virulent forms of anthrax. It was once thought that penicillin might be an effective antidote; however, preliminary data from this branch of the research indicate that the strain of anthrax is resistant to penicillin treatment . Based on this research, penicillin treatment is no longer recommended against inhalation anthrax.
Other research efforts are ongoing and include “shotgun” cloning of the b anthracis plasmid pX01. an author , reports that research begun in the late 1990s discovered a “pathogenicity island” in this strain of anthrax, which contains the three toxic genes, those responsible for germinating inside the body, once inhaled.
In an earlier study, made a similar discovery. Their research indicated that once b anthracis is inhaled, there is a five- to 19-fold increase in virulence compared with growth in the air. They concluded that occurs because of the body’s retention of a level of carbon dioxide at least a 5 percent level.
In the year 1999, then-President Clinton gave the Department of Health and Human Services an additional $43.4 million for research and development to defend the American people against biological attacks, particularly anthrax. The bulk of the research, Atlas (1999) says will be used to develop new vaccines that will be available to the general public. To date, those vaccines are not available to everyone, though research and development continue unabated.