Astonishingly, rabies still kills
more than 40,000 people every year around the world, but a new DNA vaccine
being tested in animals may help push that number to 0.
Scientists at the Rocky Mountain
Laboratory in Montana announced that eight monkeys injected with the vaccine
appeared to be completely immune to a wide range of common rabies viruses.
The vaccine causes the lymph node to trigger an immune response which
caused complete immunity to rabies after about 30 days.
The main advantage to the new vaccine,
however, is cost. The DNA vaccine can be produced for a few dollars per
dose, compared to a couple thousand dollars for the traditional vaccine.
In other news, a new drug entering
animal testing provides hope that human addiction to narcotics might be
alleviated. Vigabrantin was originally developed to treat epilepsy, but
animal tests suggest it could be used as a treatment for cocaine addiction.
When administered in rats and primates the drug seemed to prevent or diminish
the “high” the animals got from cocaine. A 90-day clinical trial
to test the drug’s efficacy in human beings is scheduled for this fall.
“DNA rabies vaccine succeeds in animals,” Roger Highfield, The Daily
Telegraph, June 1998.
“Epilepsy drug could block cocaine addiction,” Reuters News Service,
August 5, 1998.