A new anthrax vaccine may offer a faster and easier way to protect the general population and soldiers at war in the event of a deadly bioterror attack. Scientists have developed a powdered form of the vaccine that could potentially be inhaled through the nose, thus eliminating needle injections.
The new formulation is based on an anthrax recombinant protective antigen (rPA), a genetically engineered protein. Researchers say the powdered formula is more stable than the injected liquid version and can withstand wider temperature extremes, in more extreme conditions without refrigeration.
The vaccine has not yet been tested in humans, but investigators say clinical trials could be possible within the next two to three years.In laboratory tests using rabbits exposed to a lethal dose of inhalation anthrax, nasal immunization with the powder resulted in an 83-percent to 100-percent survival rate. The results are similar to the protection offered by the injected formula.