Methods of treating autoimmune disease via the T-cell co-stimulatory pathway

Drs. Darrel Galloway and Al Mateczun of theNaval Medical Research Center havedeveloped and successfully transferred toindustry a DNA-based vaccine against anthrax.Anthrax has been used in bioterror attacks andis also a problem in the livestock industry.The inhaled method of contracting anthrax, thepreferredmethod ofbioterrorists, ishighly lethal.The bacteriumresponsible forthe disease canbe modifiedinto a “super”stain thatthwarts currentvaccines. Thenew vaccinetechnologymakes itpossible to respond to specific engineeredanthrax attacks much more rapidly andinexpensively than existing methods. Thetechnology also advances all future anthraxvaccines by demonstrating the importance ofthe anthrax “lethal factor” in generatingimmunity; previous vaccines relied primarilyon the “protective antigen.” Drs. Galloway and Mateczun have shown that vaccinesincorporating both elements will provide betterimmunization than previous vaccines thatinclude only the protective antigen. Finally,the new technology also eliminates many ofthe issues associated with vaccinating withtraditionally developed vaccines.The vaccineshaveprogressed tohuman trialsand couldbecome thefirst DNA-based vaccineapproved bythe FDA.FDA approvalof this vaccinecould open thedoor to a newwave of DNA-based vaccines against a variety of otherdiseases. Such vaccines would offer the samebenefits as the new anthrax vaccine: low cost,fast development, and rapid adaptability tonew and engineered biological threats.
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