There is currently only one anthrax vaccine licensed for use in the United States, but it does not provide permanent immunity from infection by the bacteria.
Scientists said last week that two protein fragments could point the way to development of an anthrax vaccine that would carry fewer possible side effects than the existing treatment .
"Our research was motivated by the fact that the current anthrax vaccine has significant limitations and there is great need for a better one," researcher Nareen Abboud, lead author of a study conducted by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York, said in a press release.
There is currently only one anthrax vaccine licensed for use in the United States. That treatment, though, requires five shots over 18 months and does not confer permanent immunity from infection by the bacteria. It can also cause strong allergic reactions for a limited population of recipients and leads to "redness, swelling or pain at the injection site" in one of every five people, the release states.
"An ideal anthrax vaccine contains only the proteins needed to provide protection against disease, and none of the extraneous protein material that triggers the adverse reactions caused by the current vaccine," Abboud said. "We're hopeful that the two peptides that we have identified in this study can offer these benefits."
Anthrax has been identified as a likely agent of bioterrorism. A set of tainted letters killed five people and sickened others in 2001.
More than 1.8 million U.S. citizens received anthrax vaccinations between 1998 and 2008, according to the release.
Results of the study were published this month in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.