The current anthrax vaccine has numerous side effects including headaches, fever and nausea and needs to be administered in regular booster doses to retain its protective ability. Rakesh Bhatnagar and colleagues at the Center for Biotechnology at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India are to present three abstracts at the 41st Annual Meeting of the American Society of Cell Biology — on 11 December 2001 in Washington DC — revealing a potential vaccine for anthrax that doesn't have these side effects.

Bhatnagar begin looking for a suitable vaccine seven years ago following a major animal anthrax epidemic in West Bengal. The anthrax-causing bacterium, Bacillus anthracis, derives its toxicity from three proteins; protective antigen (PA), lethal factor (LF) and oedemal factor (OF). The proteins are harmless on their own but PA binds to LF to produce lethal toxin and to OF to form oedema toxin, which then...

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