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Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2008;2008:1040-3. doi: 10.1109/IEMBS.2008.4649337.

Protective antigen composite nanofibers as a transdermal anthrax vaccine.

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  • 1Biochemistry Department, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA.


Anthrax, a disease caused by the gram positive bacteria Bacillus anthracis, has become an increasing threat to public health in the last several years, due to its use as an agent of biological warfare. The currently utilized human anthrax vaccine, which confers immunity through the host antibody recognition of protective antigen (PA), requires a three dose regimen and annual booster shots after the initial vaccination to maintain its efficacy. The long term goal of this project is to produce an anthrax vaccine that is capable of delivering protective antigen through human skin. The novel method for transdermal vaccine delivery that we propose utilizes the high surface area to volume ratio offered by protein-containing nanofiber membranes, prepared by the electrospinning technique. Research has already been undertaken to study the effect the main virulent agent of anthrax, lethal toxin (LT), has on a human monocytic cell line, Monomac 6 cells (MM6). Lethal toxin is said to comprise of a Zn2+ -dependent metalloprotease known as lethal factor (LF), and a binding protein known as protective antigen. The successful encapsulation of the protective antigen within the nanofibrous membrane was analyzed with the use of an in vitro MM6 assay. The assay was designed to ensure the functionality of PA through the harsh environment of the electrospinning process. Quantitative analysis of IL-6 cytokine production by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulated MM6 cells in the presence of LF and PA provided proof that PA retained its biological activity through the process of electrospinning. This finding provides an innovative platform for the development of a transdermal anthrax vaccine.

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