New protein could lead to new anthrax vaccine

A Wichita State University associate chemistry professor and his students have developed a protein that could someday be used as an anthrax vaccine.

Professor Jim Bann was recently awarded a patent concerning the protein, which has the potential to save the lives of anthrax victims, according to

The patent is the culmination of research Bann conducted with the help of his undergraduate and graduate school students, as well as R. John Collier, a leader in anthrax research from Harvard University.

"The research we do is largely through the efforts of WSU students, who are so incredibly talented," Bann said, according to "My hope is that students who are interested and participate in this research, now and in the future, will continue toward a career in research, trying to improve the quality of human life through their own creativity. Then we would all benefit."

Bann began this research in 2005 after studying how one component of the anthrax toxin - a protective antigen - operated by making a pore inside of animal and human cells. This pore was essential in making the toxin.

Bann’s research group tested its hypothesis by incorporating an amino acid into the protective antigen. In the process, the toxicity of the protective antigen became blocked and the cells were protected.

The patent Bann received covers the use of the amino acid as a therapeutic against anthrax. Anyone wishing to use it would have to seek a license from Wichita State University. The university would also share in any profits.