New anthrax vaccine from India
A new, experimental human anthrax vaccine developed in India is ready and waiting for clinical trials, according to Dr. Rakesh Bhatnagar, chairman of the Centre for Biotechnology (CBT) at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
The CBT team genetically engineered Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria to produce harmless, mutant forms of the three key proteins, found in Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax. In studies, the investigators found the mutated proteins were good candidates for the development of an anthrax vaccine. The mutation does not affect their molecular shapes, which meant they retained their original ability to generate specific protective antibodies.
The research behind this recombinant technology vaccine will be presented in December at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in Washington, DC. The team is now ready to hand the technology over to industry to produce large quantities of the vaccine for use in human trials. Those trials would determine if the vaccine is safe and effective in humans. It is expected that this anthrax vaccine should be in the market in a year or a little over.
Mass immunisation with a safe and effective anthrax vaccine could thwart attempts of terrorists to use anthrax as a biological warfare agent. The researchers developed the vaccine with a total grant of roughly $250,000 from India's DBT over the last 7 years. This work is very important for India, not just in the current world scenario, but also because anthrax has always been a common problem in the country.
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