Researchers advance oral anthrax vaccine

Researchers recently found that forms of the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus or Lactobacillus gasseri that express the protective antigen component of the anthrax toxin has substantial immunopotentiating properties and may be effective as a safe oral vaccine against an anthrax challenge.

A variety of platforms have been tested as vaccines against the anthrax toxin, but most of them are in need of refinement through the use of cellular and molecular approaches. The currently licensed anthrax vaccines are of limited use since they only induce limited protection and require several administrations to provide protective immunity, according to the journal PLoS ONE.

A recent study, however, demonstrates that L. gasseri expressing B. anthracis protective antigen via specific DC-targeting peptides elicits efficacious protective immunity against a B. anthracis Sterne challenge. The study also evaluated the safety and immunogenicity of L. gasseri and found that the candidate activates intestinal and further systemic immunity, meaning it could one day be used as a possible oral vaccine.

The research was supported, in part, by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. No external funding was received for the study and the funders had no role in the study's design or subsequent analysis.

The researchers said that recent advances in biotechnology and in the understanding of intestinal immunity and microbial-host cell interactions should make it possible to use newly-designed mucosal delivery systems.

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