Two new anthrax vaccines show promise

Published 22 December 2005

The bad news: Anthrax strains have begun to develop resistance to Bayer’s Cipro, the only anthrax vaccine in the market; the good news:Two new vaccines show promise

They say that tobacco is the only commercially available product which will surely kill you if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Well, there may be some benefit to tobacco after all. A University of Central Florida professor has developed an anthrax vaccine from genetically engineered tobacco plants. An acre of tobacco plants could produce enough for the entire country, he said. Henry Daniell’s research, published in this month’s edition of the Infection and Immunity Journal, showed that mice injected with his vaccine and subjected to high levels of anthrax toxin by National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers were able to withstand infection. “From one cell, every single cell of the new plant will contain 10,000 copies of this foreign gene,” Daniell said. Before the vaccine can be mass-produced, it must pass clinical trials.

In a separate development on the anthrax front, researchers are growing in their belief that an experimental antibiotic may prove effective if there is another anthrax attack in the United States. This is good news since some anthrax strains have already developed resistance against the only current treatment, ciprofloxacin, sold as Bayer’s Cipro. The new anti-anthrax alternative might be an antibiotic known as dalbavancin. Researchers said that dalbavancin, which is still undergoing testing among people with a variety of infectious diseases, has such a long half-life that it could be offered as a once-a-week IV therapy, making treatment easier for people exposed to anthrax. “Dalbavancin appears to be a good candidate for treatment in post-anthrax exposure situations,” said Henry Heine, a microbiologist at the United States Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), Ft. Detrick, Maryland.

Once dalbavancin is approved, a course of treatment would require only 7 or 8 administrations as opposed to 120 doses of Cipro pills.

-read more about the tobacco-derived vaccine in this report; read more about dalbavancin in this UPI report