Saturday, December 02, 2006

New finding points way to foiling anthrax's tricks

“University of California, Berkeley, chemists have discovered a trick that anthrax bacteria use to make an end run around the body's defenses, but which may turn out to be their Achilles' heel. The UC Berkeley scientists, working with colleagues at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, uncovered the trick while studying how these deadly bacteria steal iron from their human hosts to grow and reproduce. Anthrax bacteria are known to produce two small molecules - bacillibactin and petrobactin - that snatch iron away from the human body's iron transporter molecules, called transferrin. These scavengers, or ‘siderophores,’ are essential to anthrax's ability to grow rapidly, especially after the spores are inhaled, though why the bacteria need two siderophores to do the job has been an enigma. The new study shows why anthrax bacteria require two siderophores working by two different mechanisms... [The] UC Berkeley team and the Seattle team are now exploring how their discovery could be used to diagnose or treat anthrax. The researchers published their findings Nov. 28 in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their paper will appear in the Dec. 5 print edition.”
(Media-Newswire, 30Nov06)


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