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Design and Testing of Novel Anthrax Vaccines Utilizing a Tobacco Mosaic Virus Expression System

McComb, RC;

Anthrax is a potentially fatal disease caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis. Infection and disease occur after spores gain entry into the body, germinate into vegetative bacteria, and produce toxin. Bacillus anthracis spores have been engineered as bioweapons and have been used repeatedly in warfare and terrorism to inflict casualties in military and civilian populations. Currently, only one vaccine has been approved for prevention of anthrax in the United States. This vaccine is an undefined product that is difficult to produce, requires a long vaccination schedule, and is reactogenic. Efforts to make an improved anthrax vaccine are being pursued. With recent insights into the mechanisms by which viruses engage the immune system, novel vaccine antigens have been designed with the hope of achieving faster and longer lasting immune responses. These technologies, called virus nanoparticle and virus-like particle vaccines, have been successful in the development of experimental and commercial vaccines. The research presented is an investigation of the utilization of a Tobacco Mosaic Virus antigen display system for inducing targeted antibody responses against defined peptides from the anthrax toxin.