Plague research is being conducted by several government agencies in an effort to help diagnose, treat, and prevent infection. Current areas of research include possible therapies and vaccines, as well as determining what is needed to defend against possible bioterrorist-caused disease outbreaks. Plague research is also working on better understanding the bacteria that cause plague in humans.
Several government agencies support plague research in an effort to help in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of infections caused by microbes (including those that have the potential for use as biological weapons). The research program to address biodefense includes both short- and long-term studies targeted at designing, developing, evaluating, and approving specific tools (diagnostics, therapies, and vaccines) needed to defend against possible bioterrorist-caused disease outbreaks.
Current areas of plague research include:
- Identifying genes in the Yersinia pestis bacteria that infect the digestive tract of fleas and researching how the bacteria are transferred to humans
- Developing a plague vaccine that protects against pneumonic plague acquired through inhalation
- Studying the disease-causing proteins and genes of Yersinia pestis that allow the bacteria to grow in humans, and how they function in human lungs
- Developing promising antibiotics and intervention strategies to prevent and treat plague infection.