Inhaled Anthrax Vaccine Works in Rabbits

At a meeting of the American Chemical Society, it was reported that tests of an inhaled anthrax vaccine have proven successful in initial animal trials.

The vaccine is a joint project between the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and BD Technologies. The military currently uses an anthrax vaccine that requires six injections over an 18 month period, and is seeking a vaccine that could be given faster and easier to soldiers as well as civilians in the event of an anthrax attack.

According to lead researcher Vince Sullivan reported that in laboratory tests, rabbits given the vaccine and then exposed to a lethal dose of anthrax had survival rates between 83 and 100 percent. The vaccine also appears to be more stable than the liquid injectable version, and appears to be able to withstand temperature extremes better, suggesting it would be easier to stockpile the vaccine.

The inhaled vaccine, however, still has at least several more years of animal testing to go through before any clinical trials could begin.


Inhaled anthrax vaccine tested in animals. CIDRAP News, September 1, 2004.

Inhaled anthrax vaccine protects in animals – report. Reuters Health, August 24, 2004.

Russian ALF Outlines Its Extremist Actions

In July, the Russian Animal Liberation Front Support Group posted on the Internet an English-language outline of the group’s activities in Russia since its first activities in 2000.

The Russian ALF apparently started out with pretty low expectations, bragging, for example, that,

The summer of 2002 was marked by the destruction of 70 advert posters . . .

A few years later they had progressed to stealing frogs,

On 21 April 2004 RALF activists managed to get into the laboratory of the institute named after Anokhin, Russian Medical Academy. They freed 119 frogs and their eggs.

Thank goodness they saved the eggs!

The RALF (their acronym, not mine, but quite apropos) then moved up the food chain to rats and rabbits,

On 8 May 2004, 110 rats and 5 rabbits disappeared from the laboratory of Moscow State University Biological Department. These animals were used in experiments against alcoholism and drugs. Rats were fed drugs and alcohol, and rabbits had electrodes inserted in their heads.

Ah, the globalization of animal rights cluelessness in action.


History of the Russian Animal Liberation Front…so far.
Russian Animal Liberation Front Support Group, July 2, 2004.

Chinese Researchers Claim Human/Rabbit Hybrid

Chinese researchers claimed in August to have created the first human/rabbit hybrid embryo.

The researcher was carried out at Shanghai Second Medical University and details about the research was published in Cell Research, a bimonthly peer reviewed journal of the Shanghai Institute of Cell Biology.

The researchers claim they fused skin cells from a number of human source with rabbit cells that had most of their rabbit DNA removed. According to the researchers, 400 of the hybrids grew into early embryos and more than 100 survived to become blastocysts.

There are many good reasons, however, to be skeptical that the researchers actually managed to create hybrid embryos.

According to a United Press International story, the report on this research had been submitted and rejected by several more reputable journals over the past two years. The study has been rejected for publication because both the draft and the version published in Cell Research omit data that would make it possible to confirm that the researchers actually resulted in embryonic cells.

And, as UPI tactfully puts it, “researchers in China have gained a reputation for making bold claims about cloning and stem cells that, all too often, prove false.”


Scientists Doubt Chinese Claim of Rabbit-Human Clone. United Press International, August 15, 2003.

Cloning yields human-rabbit hybrid embryo. Rick Weiss, Washington Post, August 14, 2003.

Australia Looks to Genetically Engineered Virus to Stop Mouse Population Explosions

Australia has a regular problem with explosions in its mouse population that occur in roughly four year cycles. The number of mice quickly increases to billions and costs Australian agriculture upwards of US $90 million in crop damage.

The problem is so severe that Australian researchers are currently investigating an exotic solution to prevent such population explosions — a genetically modified virus that renders female mice sterile.

The virus is a modified form of he herpes virus that is spread by mouse-to-mouse contact. Once it infects a female mouse, it will prevent sperm from fertilizing eggs. Researchers at Australia’s Co-operative Control of Pest Animals has shown the modified virus works in the laboratory setting, and now wants to test the virus in the field.

That, however, will have to wait for extensive testing to ensure that the virus will not jump the species barrier and infect other animals besides mice. But Australia has experience with using such solutions. It used myomatosis disease 50 years ago to control the rabbit population, and in the 1990s used the calci virus to lower rabbit populations. The calci virus killed an estimated 90 percent of the country’s rabbit population, allowing some ecosystems that were overrun by the animals to begin to recover.


Australia invents new mousetrap with herpes virus. Reuters, April 8, 2003.

NT Queens’s Birthday Honours. ABC Rural, October 6, 2002.

BioSyn Obtains Rights to Potential HIV Microbicide

Biotechnology firm BioSyn announced in April that it had acquire exclusive worldwide rights to a potential HIV microbicide from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The compound in question is cyanovirin-N which has been shown to be relatively successful in preventing the spread of AIDS-like diseases in animal models. NIH researchers working with a primate model showed that CV-N prevented transmission of SIV among monkeys.

Dr. Richard Bax, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Biosyn, said in a press release announcing the deal,

CV-N is a member of an exciting new class of HIV drugs termed fusion inhibitors. By preventing HIV entry into and fusion with target cells, CV-N effectively inhibits the virus’ mode of infection. As an intravaginal gel applied prior to intercourse, CV-N could help to avert the sexual transmission of HIV.

Although tests of actual prevention of transmission have so far occurred only in animals, laboratory tests show that CV-N prevents HIV transmission from cell to cell by binding to a protein on the outer shell of the virus and thereby interfering with receptors that HIV uses to target healthy cells.

The NIH conducted studies using a rabbit vaginal toxicity/irritancy model to establish that a gel containing CV-N would be benign (I’d love to see animal rights activists explain how to reproduce that research without using animals), and in vivo tests with human cells suggest it will not attack human immune cells nor important bacteria present in the human vagina.

BioSyn received a $10 million grant from the NIH in November 2002 to develop CV-N through the clinical trial process.


Biosyn, Inc. Obtains Exclusive Rights to Novel HIV Microbicide Candidate from National Institutes of Health. Press Release, BioSyn, April 3, 2003.

Cyanovirin-N Shows Potential to Block HIV Transmission. Reuters Health Information Services, May 8, 2000.

Structural studies of the potent anti-HIV protein cyanovirin-N using NMR and ITC. Carole A. Bewley, National Institutes of Health.

Solution structure of cyanovirin-N, a potent HIV-inactivating protein. Carole A. Bewley, et al., Nature Structural Biology, July 1998, v.5, no. 7, pp.571-578.

Dutch Virgin Mary Ad Campaign Causes Controversy

Dutch animal rights activists created a controversy there with an ad campaign featuring the Virgin Mary.

The ad shows the Virgin Mary cradling a dead, bleeding hare. According to Reuters, hare is traditional Christmas fare in the Ntherlands.

Christian Democrat Annie Schreijer-Pierik denounced the ad in the Dutch parliament this week.


Animal rights Christmas ad sparks uproar. Reuters, December 13, 2002.

Dutch animal rights Christmas ad sparks uproar Reuters, December 13, 2002