Axenically-Produced Coxiella burnetii and Methods for Producing Axenic Coxiella burnetii

Coxiella burnetii is the causative agent of Q (Query) fever. Currently, there is a need for a safe Q fever vaccine. It is anticipated that axenically-produced C. burnetii, which is free of host cell related impurities, could provide either the basis for a whole-cell Q fever vaccine or advance the development of a safe recombinant Q fever vaccine. Currently, there are no licensed Q-fever vaccines except for a whole-cell, formalin inactivated, vaccine which is available in Australia (Q-Vax). Individuals with a previous exposure to C. burnetii may, however, have a severe allergic reaction to this vaccine and other individuals may experience a headache or flu-like symptoms after vaccination. It is anticipated that axenically-produced C. burnetii could provide the basis for a less reactogenic whole-cell vaccine or facilitate the development of a recombinant vaccine that does not cause an allergic reaction. Additionally, the inability to propagate obligate intracellular pathogens under axenic (host cell-free) culture conditions imposes severe experimental constraints that have negatively impacted progress in understanding pathogen virulence and disease mechanisms.

Q fever is a zoonotic disease and farm animals, pets, and rodents are significant reservoirs for C. burnetii. C. burnetii persists in the soil for a longtime and typically humans are exposed to Q fever by the inhalation of the bacterium deposited with animal waste such as urine, feces, and amniotic fluid. The epidemiology of Q fever is diverse and the disease does not discriminate between developed and developing countries. Additionally, urban outbreaks have been known to occur due to windborne C. burnetii. C. burnetii is listed as a select agent by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) because of its potential as an agent of bioterrorism. Deployed military personnel are also at risk of contracting Q fever and thousands of cases of Q fever have been reported among military personnel since the disease was first reported in the 1930s.

Development Stage:
This technology has been demonstrated with C. burnetii. Currently, the inventors are testing this technology for support of axenic growth of other obligate, intracellular, bacteria of public health significance.


Robert Heinzen (NIAID)  ➽ more inventions...

Anders Omsland (NIAID)  ➽ more inventions...

Diane Cockrell (NIAID)  ➽ more inventions...

Dale Howe (NIAID)  ➽ more inventions...

Intellectual Property:
US Pat: - issued -
PCT Application No. PCT/US2010/024706 filed on 2010-02-19

A Omsland et al. Host cell-free growth of the Q fever bacterium Coxiella burnetii. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2009 Mar 17;106(11):4430-4434. PubMed abs

Licensing Contact:
Jeffrey Thruston,
Phone: 301-594-5179

OTT Reference No: E-114-2009-0
Updated: Jun 1, 2009