by Medindia Content Team on  April 22, 2006 at 6:18 PM Research News
Killer protein for anthrax bacteria discovered
The term biological weapons is not isolated it has been categorized in A,B and C. A biological agents being the scariest, easy to spread, kill effectively and call for special actions by the pubic health system. E.g. anthrax. But there is hope by Vince Fischetti's laboratory at Rockefeller University which suggests that a newly discovered protein could be used to fight anthrax infections and even decontaminate areas in which anthrax spores have been released.

In the words of Fischetti, "Anthrax is the most efficient biowarfare agent. Its spores are stable and easy to produce, and once someone inhales them, there is only a 48-hour window when antibiotics can be used. We've found a new protein that could both potentially expand that treatment window and be used as a large-scale decontaminant of anthrax spores. Because anthrax spores are resistant to most of the chemicals that emergency workers rely on to sterilize contaminated areas, a solution based on the protein would be a powerful tool for cleaning up after an anthrax attack."

The new protein has several advantages. Most lysins, including PlyG, are only active in a very specific pH range of six to seven, so that they work very effectively in our bloodstream, but may not useful in many environmental conditions.

Elucidating on the goodness of the protein he says, "We have never seen bacterial resistance to a lysine. PlyPH and PlyG are probably the most specific lysins we, or anyone, has ever identified they only kill anthrax and its very close relatives. This feature, and the wide pH range offered by PlyPH, is why we think it could be used as an environmental decontaminant."

In the pipeline is the development of a combined suspension which could be used in buildings, on transportation equipment, on clothing, even on skin, providing a safe, easy way to fight the spread of anthrax in the event of a mass release.

Most Popular on Medindia