Anthrax Study at Alabama U

By By U Wire

By U Wire

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.?The University of Alabama Birmingham has received a five-year, $4.3 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to study a new anthrax vaccine.

The study will determine the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness in producing desired antibodies to fight anthrax.

Currently, the vaccine is administered in six doses over 18 months. After this initial period, the treatment is followed by annual boosters.

“Preliminary studies indicate that it might be possible to reduce the number of doses and to inject the vaccine into the muscle rather than under the skin,” said Dr. Mark Mulligan, director of the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic at UAB and associate director of disease agent clinical research for the Center for Disaster Preparedness at UAB.

“The nation needs an anthrax vaccine with a reduced dosing schedule and easier route of administration,” Mulligan said. “It would dramatically reduce the cost and logistical burden of immunizing U.S. military forces and make the goal of total force immunization more attainable.”

Populations at increased risk of contracting anthrax will be more likely to use a vaccine that is easier to administer and proves to be just as effective as longer-lasting treatments.

“Complete immunization of all forces potentially at risk, particularly during a wartime situation, would serve as a deterrent against the use of biological weapons,” Mulligan said.

The study, set to begin early next year, is a joint effort by the AVRC and CDP.

“Both groups bring a wealth of experience and expertise to this project,” Mulligan said. “It is a good marriage that will serve to contribute significantly to the CDC’s anthrax vaccine agenda.”

UAB is one of five sites nationwide participating in the study.

“This is a very important effort,” said Dr. Thomas Terndrup, director of the CDP. “The events of Sept. 11 have shaken our security and will serve as an impetus to projects like this. If the terrorist attacks hadn’t happened, we would still be moving forward, but perhaps at a different pace.”