Researchers at at Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) are developing the first human Brucella vaccine against Brucella bacteria. The bacteria causes brucellosis, a chronic disease that causes high fever, incapacitation and neurological symptoms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Brucella has been weaponized and the vaccine would be used as a biodefense vaccine by the military. Allison Rice-Ficht, Ph.D., director of the Center for Microencapsulation and Drug Delivery at Texas A&M Health Science Center, worked on developing the vaccine, and also created an improved delivery system to make the vaccine stable at room temperature and allow it to be taken orally. She calls it a “pocket vaccine,” and these features will allow soldiers to carry capsules in their pockets for oral consumption in survival situations.
“We are now addressing packaging issues so that the future ‘pocket vaccine’ will be able to be distributed at room temperature and without medical personnel,” she said. A patent application is currently pending on the vaccine, and studies in animal models are about to be completed. As a next step, Ficht hopes to conduct clinical trials of the vaccine on humans in the near future.
When the vaccine is ready for production, INCELL Corporation in San Antonio will start small-scale manufacturing. When it is successful, the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing (NCTM) at Texas A&M University will provide large-scale manufacturing. “We see this large-scale production as the future with NCTM,” said Ficht. “Such collaboration maximizes the resources of the Texas A&M System.”
To develop the vaccine, Ficht received a $2.6 million grant in 2007 from the Department of Defense (DoD), specifically the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command. Since then, the original grant has been renewed twice, adding $1.6 million to the total. It will conclude this December.
The video below provides a clinical overview of Brucella:
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