New Anthrax Vaccine to Be Tested

Study in 12 American cities will see if experimental version an improvement

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TUESDAY, May 11, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Scientists in 12 American cities are beginning tests of an experimental vaccine that could protect people against anthrax, a rare disease that has become a potential bioterrorism agent.

A vaccine for anthrax already is in use, mainly to protect military personnel, but it requires six shots over 18 months and an annual booster shot. The vaccine also causes a number of side effects.

Scientists are trying to develop a new vaccine that works faster with fewer side effects. The vaccine now being studied requires two shots four weeks apart. It is produced by California-based VaxGen Inc., based on data from U.S. Army researchers.

"If you're trying to immunize in the face of a threat, particularly if the infectious agent has already been released, a delay of 18 months until the vaccine is effective is a big problem," Dr. John Treanor, director of the Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit at the University of Rochester, said in a prepared statement. "That's just too long to wait."

Doctors hope to enroll 480 people -- 40 in each city -- in the study by the end of May. The study is being funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about anthrax.

SOURCES: University of Rochester Medical Center, news release, May 2004

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