A potential vaccine for the deadly toxin ricin, a "Category B" biological agent, will enter the first phase of clinical testing in coming weeks at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
The Food and Drug Administration and the UT Southwestern Institutional Review Board have agreed that the trial can go forward in humans. "This is a safety and immunogenicity trial," said Dr. Ellen Vitetta, director of the Cancer Immunobiology Center at UT Southwestern. "To test the immune response induced by the vaccine, the sera (blood products) from our injected human volunteers will be tested for levels of specific ricin-neutralizing antibodies. These antibodies, in turn, will be evaluated for their ability to protect mice against a lethal ricin challenge. As far as we can tell, the vaccine is completely safe and has no side effects."
Dr. Vitettas work with ricin received international attention when she and a team of UT Southwestern researchers developed an experimental vaccine for the deadly toxin as an outgrowth of their cancer-therapy work. The translation from discovery to clinical testing has moved rapidly with support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the "incredible efforts of a talented and dedicated group of scientists and research associates," Dr. Vitetta said.
Amanda Siegfried | EurekAlert!
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