British scientists working on new anthrax vaccine in Georgia
The project is a multi-national effort that includes researchers from Turkey and Georgia, where anthrax infection in animals is a common problem.
The team's leader, Professor Les Baillie of the Cardiff University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, said the work is primarily a response to the threat of anthrax being used as a biological weapon.
Baillie said that most efforts to develop a vaccine are hampered because researchers are unable to test vaccine candidates with human trials. The current project may work with people in both Turkey and Georgia. Anthrax most commonly infects hoofed animals, but can also infect people when they inhale or ingest anthrax spores.
The professor previously worked on anthrax vaccine programs with the U.S. Army and the U.K. Ministry of Defense. He said that the majority of the world's population is susceptible to anthrax infection, according to BBC.
"The US postal attacks in 2001 highlighted the vulnerability of civilian populations and brought home the need to develop effective, rapid, robust medical countermeasures to combat the threat posed by terrorist use of this organism," Baillie said, BBC reports.
Baillie said a new research center will be setup in Georgia to aid the research and improve the lives of people in the region.
"So you look for a part of the world where it's a problem. Then you immunize people [using the vaccine] and see if the incidents of anthrax go down," Baillie said, according to BBC.