Combo anthrax/smallpox vax beats anthrax vax alone

Researchers have found that combination vaccines that protect against multiple maladies work better than vaccines for individual infections, including anthrax vaccines stockpiled by the U.S. government.

The vaccine developed by the FDA and the National Cancer Institute, which protects against anthrax and smallpox, helped rabbits develop immunity against anthrax faster than Emergent BioSolutions' BioThrax vaccine. According to the study, 33 percent of rabbits in the combo vaccine group were protected against anthrax, compared to 10 percent in the BioThrax group. The researchers also found that the combo vaccine had fewer side effects than BioThrax or a smallpox vaccine owned by Pfizer, which the combo vaccine was derived from.

"It's vital to note this research is still in the very earliest of stages," Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for Emergent BioSolutions, tells Bloomberg in an e-mail. "What this study does underscore is that the threat of anthrax remains unfortunately very real."

The combo vaccine still has many stages of testing to undergo, including additional animal testing before it is acceptable for human trials. According to Liyanage Perera, a researcher at the National Cancer Institute, that testing could take two or three years to complete.

- see Bloomberg's report
- and here's the PhysOrg article