New report places anthrax, smallpox and HFVs at top of research priorities

A new report shows that anthrax and smallpox remain the most researched bioagents in the biodefense industry.

The report, produced by GBI Research, shows that anthrax vaccines make up 24 percent of the molecules in the biodefense industry pipeline. Smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980, makes up 30 percent. Viral hemorrhagic fevers, including Ebola virus, makeup the largest portion, 39 percent, according to

GBI Research said that anthrax and smallpox will continue to remain key areas of development because of their destructive capacity. The agents can easily travel through the air and could cause large numbers of casualties. Currently, Anthrax Vaccine Absorbed, which is produced by Emergent BioSolutions, Inc., is the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved anthrax vaccine.

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, is developing alternative antimicrobials and antitoxin therapies for anthrax infection.

The FDA currently stores approximately 15 million doses of Dryvax, the smallpox vaccine, which stopped production in 1983. If a smallpox outbreak were to occur, however, it is believed the available vaccine would not be capable of meeting demand, reports.

The GBI Research report estimates that the United States has spent more than $50 billion since 2001 on addressing the potential threat from biological weapons. Much of the funding is related to the development of medical countermeasures.

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