Post Exposure Vaccination for Anthrax using siRNA

Technology #d-1184

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Mingtao Zeng
Associate Professor of the Center of Emphasis in Infectious Diseases. We are developing new-generation vaccines against human respiratory pathogens such as influenza viruses, Streptococcus pneumoniae, nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi), and agents important for biodefense such as Bacillus anthracis, botulinum neurotoxins, and Francisella tularensis. Our multi-component candidate vaccines are being formulated and delivered by noninvasive nasal, oral, or transcutaneous manners, using recombinant viruses, bacteria, plasmid DNA, and detoxified bacterial toxins as vaccine antigen delivery vehicles. The noninvasive and easy administration procedures are expected to eliminate pain associated with needle injection, to reduce the requirement for specially trained personnel and equipment, and to permit rapid vaccine deployment in a short time frame at a low cost.
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Provisional Patent Application Filed 62/175,951


Anthrax is a disease that rarely occurs naturally in humans, making it more realistic to develop a post exposure prophylaxis or therapy instead of a program of mass immunization.  When the bacteria Bacillus anthracis is introduced into the body, it will later produce the anthrax toxin which affects certain receptors on the host’s cells, potentially leading to the host’s death.

The proposed invention is an engineered anthrax toxin molecule that is not itself toxic. The engineered molecule specifically targets the same receptors that anthrax targets, delivers molecular cargo to the cell, and ultimately decreases the cell expression of the receptor that the molecule binds to. Because that receptor is no longer on the cell, the toxic anthrax released from the bacteria cannot infect the cells.

Reference Number: D-1184

Market Applications:

  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • National Defense

Features, Benefits & Advantages:

  • Greater efficacy of drug delivery
  • Specific delivery to toxin receptor-expressing cells
  • Improved anthrax post-exposure therapy

Intellectual Property:

  • A provisional application was filed on June 15th, 2015, application number 62/175,951.

Development Stage:

  • This technology is in the proof of concept stage. In vivo and in vitro experiments began when the NIH grant was received on July 1st, 2015.


  • Mingtao Zeng, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, El Paso, TX

Keywords: anthrax toxin receptor, prophylactic treatment, post-exposure therapeutics