New patent propels vaccine development
Karl Klose, director of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (STCEID), and Bernard Arulanandam, associate dean of research for scientific innovation, have been granted a U.S. patent for developing a process to create a vaccine against the deadly tularemia infection, also called rabbit fever.
“We developed what is called a ‘live attenuated vaccine’ by removing Francisella’s IglD gene, which is critical for the bacteria to be able to survive and grow inside infected cells,” said Klose.
“In a series of studies over three years, we characterized the IglD gene, knocked it out, and observed that the crippled bacterium was able to act as an effective vaccine by inducing an immune response without causing tularemia. This research is a promising advance in our attempts to develop a vaccine against this potential bioweapon.”
Tularemia, caused by the highly infectious bacterium Francisella tularensis, can cause serious disease in humans. F. tularensis is carried primarily by animals such as rabbits and rarely causes human infections, but when breathed in through the lungs, the disease can be fatal. It is this characteristic that makes F. tularensis a potential bioweapon.