Contact: Victor Ojeda
(314) 268-5938

Vaccine Study to Target Bioterrorism Threat

ST. LOUIS, MO, March 13, 2000 ---Smallpox may be officially eradicated according to the World Health Organization (WHO) but, because of bioterrorism concerns, the Saint Louis University School of Medicine Center for Vaccine Development has begun a study to determine the safety and effectiveness of a smallpox vaccine. Supplied by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the researchers will use some of the small remaining supply of a vaccine known as Dryvax, which is no longer produced.

"Because of the recent concerns of terrorism throughout the world, the United States government is making efforts to improve its ability to protect its citizens in the event of an attack," said Sharon E. Frey, M.D., associate professor of infectious diseases and immunology, and lead investigator in the study.

The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which also is funding the establishment of the nation's only Center for Research and Bioterrorism at Saint Louis University. As announced last month, the new Center will teach physicians and other health care workers to identify the symptoms that may be related to a bioterrorism event.

WHO declared the world free of smallpox in 1980 after routine vaccination proved effective. The Dryvax vaccine is kept by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Ga.

Dr. Frey said the study will focus on the effectiveness of diluted doses of Dryvax. Of the people enrolled in the study, one-third will receive the vaccine diluted 10 times. Another third will receive the vaccine that has been diluted 100 times. The final third will receive the full, undiluted dosage.

"Being able to dilute the vaccine would potentially increase the available stock by 10 to 100 fold," Dr. Frey said. Saint Louis University is the only site in the U.S. conducting the study at this time.

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Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Frey, please contact Victor Ojeda, media specialist, department of public relations, at (314) 268-5938 or by e-mail at

An earlier news release from Saint Louis University incorrectly stated that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) requested this study from Saint Louis University School of Medicine Center for Vaccine Development. As contained in this story, the study was actually requested and funded by the National Institutes of Health, with the CDC supplying the smallpox vaccine.

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