Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by toxins produced by Bacillus anthracis. While cutaneous anthrax are rarely fatal, anthrax contracted via inhalation or ingestion has a case fatality ratio up to 60%. Because of this, and recent bioterrorism-related cases of B. anthracis spores being distributed through the U.S. mail, anthrax is a notifiable disease in the United States.
Currently, anthrax vaccine is manufactured via a fermentation process, and is distributed by a single company: BioPort Corporation. However, scientists from the University of Central Florida were able to develop an effective way of producing large quantities of anthrax vaccines. A DNA segment coding for the anthrax antigen was inserted into the chloroplast genome of tobacco cells grown in the lab. Based on the results from mice trials, the vaccine produced from the tobacco cells was just as potent as the one produced through fermentation. Furthermore, the resulting vaccine do not contain contaminating bacterial toxins previously associated with side effects from the vaccine produced through the conventional methods.
The researchers are planning to conduct human clinical trials, as well as develop an oral method of administration.
Source: UCF News and Information