Journal Article

Countering Anthrax: Vaccines and Immunoglobulins

Stanley Plotkin and John D. Grabenstein

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 46, issue 1, pages 129-136
Published in print January 2008 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online January 2008 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/523578
Countering Anthrax: Vaccines and Immunoglobulins

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Anthrax spores rank as the leading threat among bioweapons. This article reviews the accumulated evidence for immunization, either active or passive, to counter the malicious release of anthrax spores. The key protective factor in current anthrax vaccines for humans is a protein called protective antigen, which allows ingress of toxins into cells. The US vaccine is licensed to prevent anthrax, regardless of the route of exposure. Its dosing schedule is cumbersome and somewhat painful (shortcomings that may be resolved by ongoing clinical studies). It can be prescribed with the confidence commensurate with dozens of human safety studies and experience in 1.8 million recent vaccinees. For post-exposure prophylaxis, combining antibiotic prophylaxis and active immunization before illness onset may offer the best combination of prompt and sustained protection, especially for people who inhale large doses of spores. To treat anthrax infection, passive immunization using a polyclonal or monoclonal antibody product may offer important clinical benefit, especially if the anthrax bacteria are resistant to multiple antibiotics.

Journal Article.  4632 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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