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Scientists to develop vaccine to combat bioterrorism threat from deadly bacteria

Researchers at University of California – Irvine will develop a vaccine against the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, an organism that can be dispersed by an aerosol spray and used as an agent for biological terrorism. The research will be supported by a $5.8 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. B. pseudomallei, which is resistant to many antibiotics, causes melioidosis, an infectious and deadly disease that affects humans and animals. At present, no vaccine against melioidosis exists. “The development of a vaccine against B. pseudomallei is a national and worldwide goal, and is the best way to blunt a bioterrorist threat,” said Philip Felgner, principal investigator of the research project and director of the proteomics laboratory within the Center for Virus Research. “Even if we have antibiotics, it will be difficult to treat everyone affected. With the availability of a safe and effective vaccine, however, terrorists may not even proceed to develop weapons that use B. pseudomallei.” Full Story

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