WPR News
5:08 pm
Fri February 18, 2005

Bioterror Safeguards Holding Up Brucellosis Vaccine Research

Laramie, WY – Homeland security measures are creating a barrier to developing an improved vaccine to guard against brucellosis. Vaccines currently in use for elk and cattle are not very effective.Along with such things as anthrax, ricin, and plague; brucellosis is part of the federal Select Agent List. The government thinks that any of these agents could be used as a bio-terror weapon, and so there are restrictions on using them in research. Those restrictions include costly requirements to guarantee security and bio-safety. University of Wyoming Microbiologist Ken Mills says not only does that make researching a new brucellosis vaccine in Wyoming close to impossible; it's affected how the state has looked into the cases that have recently been seen. He says when they identify brucellosis; they essentially have to put it in the freezer. The state is seeking an exemption from the select agent rules to research a new brucellosis vaccine. But an official that oversees the select agent program for the USDA says such an exemption is unlikely. Another barrier is the fact there's virtually no funding available for brucellosis research. Federal sources are reluctant because the disease is largely viewed as a regional problem. State funding, meanwhile, wouldn't be enough to complete the task. Some estimates say it would take about $20 Million to create a new vaccine.