Professor researches vaccine for possible biological weapon

A professor at West Liberty University is researching a vaccine for Francisella tularensis, a bacteria which has been classified as a possible bioterrorism threat by the CDC.

Dr. Joseph Horzempa was given a grant of half a million dollars to study Francisella tularensis, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports.

"Some bacteria, you need to have a million bacteria, like salmonella or ecoli, in order for an infection to be established," Horzempa said, according to West Virginia Public Broadcasting. "So you would have to inject a whole lot of those bacteria in order to get some kind of disease that comes with it. Francisella you only need a single bacterium. So it's just about the most infectious thing on the planet."

Horzempa first began his research on Francisella tularensis when he was at the University of Pittsburgh. His research came at a time when the government was showing renewed interest in bioterrorism and funding defense research, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports.

Horzempa previously found that the bacterium invades red blood cells, and his current research looks for ways to inhibit this invasion, according to West Virginia Public Broadcasting.