University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research

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 When the word “bioterrorism” comes up in conversation, an anthrax-laced envelope might come to mind. But what about terrorists utilizing mosquitos to spread a virus?

That’s the type of bio-warfare the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research is focusing on fighting.

A $7.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, allows researchers to accelerate the development of drugs and vaccines against alphaviruses, a group of about 30 different viruses that are mainly transmitted by mosquitoes.

You might not have ever heard of eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) — it only affects five to 30 people in the United States annually — but it kills about half the people it infects, doesn’t have a cure and is becoming more common.

That’s according to William Klimstra, who, along with other University of Pittsburgh researchers, has made a major discovery that could lead to possible treatment for and prevention against the mosquito-borne virus.