« Home | Court still undecided on report of anthrax testing... » | U.S. Army Lab Freezes Research on Dangerous Pathogens » | Deadly Bio-Weaponry Build Up Comes to the Heart of... » | Revisiting the anthrax attacks » | Litigants Argue U.S. Regulators Lacked Basis to OK... » | AIG Plasma Donation Program » | Top Stock Picks ‘09: Emergent BioSolutions (EBS) » | Mutating Bird Flu Virus » | Emergent BioSolutions Receives FDA approval for Su... » | Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Vetera... »

UK Researchers Create Anthrax Vaccine Pill


UK Researchers Create Anthrax Vaccine Pill
Tests on mice have been very promising

Up to this point in time, administering anthrax vaccines has only been possible through needles. In other words, an eatable pill has been impossible to manufacture, simply because the acidic gastric liquids in the stomach would have disintegrated the vaccine molecules within a matter of seconds, and all its efficacy would have been lost. But now, researchers in the United Kingdom have managed to devise a new way of getting the cure through the stomach, and namely by “packing” it inside small bacteria.

These types of organisms are very common and can be found in products such as milk and cheese. Mice tests have shown minimal damage to the structure of the vaccine, meaning that, in their new “transport” vessel, the precious molecules have safely endured the hardships of the acids each human has in his or her stomach.

“Using 'food grade' lactic acid bacteria as a vehicle provides a safe way of getting the vaccine into the small intestine without losing any of the drug's efficacy,” US researcher Todd Klaenhammer, from North Carolina State University, who has been the co-author of the current study, says.

Finding a cure for anthrax is paramount, at least in America, where terrorists threats have people and authorities on their toes. The bacteria usually causes only minor skin lesions, which can be easily treated. However, if spores are inhaled, they rapidly and silently take hold of people's inner organs, and, by the time they start showing symptoms, it's usually too late for antibiotics to take effect and reverse the contamination.

The only current way to fight this pathogen is through injections, but because the vaccine is made of proteins, multiple shots must be administered, and not all have the desired effect on the body. However, the UK-US team has managed to disguise the proteins of the vaccine into regular bacteria, which can withstand the rigors of passing through a highly-acidic environment.

“Can we make these generally recognized as safe lactic bacteria into a premier delivery system for vaccines and biotherapeutics? That's the question we are now trying to answer,” Klaenhammer opines. The team is currently concentrating its efforts on finding out if other such organisms can carry other types of cures. If so, we could soon see a wide range of antibiotics delivered in the form of pills, and not through injections.

The results of the current research have been published in a recent edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The US Army Medical Research of Infectious Diseases has also participated in the new study.