Developing live vaccines against Yersinia pestis

Wei Sun, Kenneth L. Roland, Roy Curtiss

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Three great plague pandemics caused by the gram-negative bacterium Yersinia pestis have killed nearly 200 million people and it has been linked to biowarfare in the past. Plague is endemic in many parts of the world. In addition, the risk of plague as a bioweapon has prompted increased research to develop plague vaccines against this disease. Injectable subunit vaccines are being developed in the United States and United Kingdom. However, the live attenuated Y. pestis-EV NIIEG strain has been used as a vaccine for more than 70 years in the former Soviet Union and in some parts of Asia and provides a high degree of efficacy against plague. This vaccine has not gained general acceptance because of safety concerns. In recent years, modern molecular biological techniques have been applied to Y. pestis to construct strains with specific defined mutations designed to create safe, immunogenic vaccines with potential for use in humans and as bait vaccines to reduce the load of Y. pestis in the environment. In addition, a number of live, vectored vaccines have been reported using attenuated viral vectors or attenuated Salmonella strains to deliver plague antigens. Here we summarize the progress of live attenuated vaccines against plague.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)614-627
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of infection in developing countries
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Live vaccines
  • Plague
  • Yersinia pestis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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