11 August 2004
U.S. Military Supports Anthrax Research
U.S. disease agency gets military support in testing
The U.S. military is supporting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) as it works to test and develop a new medication
to treat anthrax infection.
A Department of Defense (DoD) August 11 news release says that
military personnel will be invited to donate blood plasma for CDC
to use in developing a new drug known as anthrax immune globulin,
an antibody-based medication.
Military personnel, routinely vaccinated against anthrax to protect
them from bioweapons on the battlefield, form the largest group
of U.S. citizens who have been vaccinated and thus carry antibodies
against the disease caused by a bacterium.
If development of the medicine is successful, and if it passes
a variety of safety and efficacy tests, it will be stored for emergency
use to treat patients who are infected with anthrax in the future,
according to the release.
CDC and DoD efforts to develop the medication stem from anthrax
attacks in the United States in 2001. Anthrax spores were distributed
through the mail system to several locations around the country,
resulting in 22 infections and five deaths. The perpetrator of
that bioterror attack is still unknown.
Following is the DoD news release:
United States Department of Defense
Aug 11, 2004
DoD Assists CDC with Anthrax Plasma Project
The Departments of Defense (DoD) and Health and Human Services
(DHHS) today announced that the military will support a Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) effort to create a new
medication against anthrax. This new medication, anthrax immune
globulin (AIG), is an antibody-based medication and could become
a critical medical countermeasure for the nation in case of an
Anthrax-vaccinated military personnel at Army installations will
be invited to donate some of their blood plasma to support this
effort to create and evaluate AIG. The first installation is Fort
Campbell, Ky. Military personnel will receive brochures and oral
presentations about the project when they receive anthrax vaccinations
beginning today, Aug. 11, 2004, at Ft. Campbell. Other installations
will be included at a later date.
The plasma will be used to make the new medication, AIG. If AIG
passes several tests, it will be stored for emergency use to treat
patients with severe anthrax infection. AIG use would occur under
Food and Drug Administration oversight since AIG is considered
an investigational new drug. The plasma-donation project is sponsored
Most of the people in the United States vaccinated against anthrax
are U.S. military personnel. For this reason, the secretary of
Health and Human Services asked for Defense Department assistance
in requesting plasma from anthrax-vaccinated troops. Whether AIG
will be useful in treating severe cases of anthrax is not yet known,
but it is under investigation.
The 2001 anthrax attack catalyzed development of AIG. During the
2001 anthrax attack, the mortality rate from severe (inhalational)
anthrax disease was 45 percent. We hope that administering AIG
with the recommended antibiotic treatment will decrease the death
rate of persons with inhalational anthrax during possible future
Plasma donors must have received four or more doses of anthrax
vaccine. For this program, most plasma donations will begin between
10 and 21 days after vaccination. Donors must pass a physical examination,
medical history screening, and blood tests. The goal is for each
donor to begin donating plasma at about two weeks after vaccination,
and to continue donating plasma once a week for 10 consecutive
The plasma will be processed by Cangene Corp., working with plasma-donation
centers in Clarksville, Tenn., near Fort Campbell; and other locations
at a later date.
For more information about this plasma-donation project, visit
http://www.anthrax.mil [http://www.anthrax.mil/] , or contact CDCmedia
relations at (404) 639-3286.