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JNU For Anthrax Vaccine

Arbro Pharmaceuticals has joined hands with Professor Rakesh Bhatnagar, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi for developing an effective regime to neutralize effects of anthrax. The agreement was signed between Department of Science and Technology (DST) which is acting through its Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Research Programme of Technology Transfer Division.

Anthrax disease

Anthrax, an acute disease of cattle, sheep, goat, and antelope, infects humans when there is exposure to spores from infected decaying animal or infected animal is eaten. As anthrax is an endemic disease and is present in a number of Indian states including Orissa, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh (AP) and West Bengal, the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals has recommended vaccination of susceptible animals within six months in these areas.

Although a number of anthrax vaccines have been developed and many are in the pipeline, strict vaccination of a large population is a farfetched idea.

In spite of this aggressive vaccination programme, every year there are cases of anthrax in animals and humans in the endemic regions. In early 2008, cases of human anthrax in AP and Orissa increased because of infected meat consumption and work in leather factories. Moreover, bioterrorism has been associated with anthrax since 2001.

Speaking on the occasion Vijay Kumar Arora, Managing Director, Arbro, said, “We are aiming to bring the highest level of healthcare within reach of the common man. In the area of diagnostics, Arbro manufactures kits for detection of diseases like tuberculosis, hepatitis and food and waterborne pathogens.”

The company is developing niche technologies and has recently taken up a patented technology from Department of Biotechnology (DBT) for diagnosis of tuberculosis. Till now its products have been imported at exorbitant costs keeping them out of reach of the masses.

Although a range of vaccines has been developed for anthrax, including live attenuated anthrax strains, aro-mutants, toxin deficient mutants, live vaccine carriers of anthrax toxins and protein component vaccine, which is followed by the discovery of more efficient delivery adjuvants. The current anthrax vaccine contains Protective Antigen (PA) with the aluminum adjuvant, as PA has long been considered to be the singularly most important antigen required for specific immunity to anthrax.

Passive immunization strategies have to be made available for protection of unimmunized individuals. The symptoms of inhalational anthrax often appear because of high toxin levels in the bloodstream. The systemic toxin levels can be neutralized with specific recombinant antibodies. But overloading the body with long-lived recombinant antibodies causes hypersensitive reactions. This project is proposed to create a bispecific single chain antibody neutralizing both Edema Factor and Lethal Factor. These small sized antibodies having faster clearance rate from the blood would help to curb the effects of both the toxins of Bacillus anthracis in a single dose.

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