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New vaccine against bioterror weapon

In a mouse study, UCLA researchers tested a vaccine against the bacterium that causes melioidosis and found it was highly protective against the disease, which is endemic in many tropical areas, causing approximately 165,000 cases with 89,000 fatalities around the world each year. The bacterium, called Burkholderia pseudomallei, is spread through contact with contaminated soil and water through inhalation, ingestion or broken skin. It is so dangerous that it is categorized as a Tier 1 Select Agent of bioterrorism, and it can cause rapidly fatal pneumonia when inhaled in low doses. If aerosolized and unleashed in a terror attack, it could lead to widespread death.

To date there are no licensed vaccines against the bacterium, said senior author Dr. Marcus Horwitz, Distinguished Professor of Medicine, in the division of infectious diseases, and of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

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