Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Overcoming anthrax bacterium's natural defenses could hold key to new treatments

19.05.2010
Army scientists have discovered a way to "trick" the bacterium that causes anthrax into shedding its protective covering, making it easier for the body's immune system to mount a defense. The study, which appears in this month's issue of the journal MICROBIOLOGY, could lead to new approaches for treating anthrax infection.

Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, is particularly lethal because of its protective coating, or capsule, which enables the pathogen to escape destruction by the host's immune system. A key bacterial enzyme called capsule depolymerase, or CapD, anchors the capsule to the cell surface. CapD also cuts and releases part of the capsule into small fragments that are thought to interfere with specific parts of the immune system, offering further protection to the bacterium. The rest of the capsule remains intact.

Finding a way to cause B. anthracis to unmask itself, using the bacterium's own machinery, would be a novel approach to defeating the pathogen. So scientists at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) induced B. anthracis to make higher-than-normal amounts of CapD, resulting in release of the capsule fragments. This left very little capsule attached to the bacterial cells. As a result, the unprotected bacteria were left vulnerable to immediate detection and destruction by the cells of the immune system.

"By engineering B. anthracis to over-produce CapD, we are effectively turning the bacterium's own weapon on itself," explained Dr. Arthur Friedlander, one of the study's principal investigators. He believes the USAMRIID group's findings could have significant clinical impact.

"Many pathogenic bacteria, including B. anthracis, produce a capsule surrounding them that prevents the infected host from killing them, improving their chances of causing disease," he explained. "Understanding the mechanisms of virulence used by the anthrax bacterium is vital to developing medical countermeasures against it."

Anthrax most commonly occurs in wild and domestic mammals, although it has the potential to be used as a biological threat agent. Symptoms vary depending on the route of exposure; however, mild fever, fatigue and muscle aches usually begin within 4-6 days of exposure. As the bacteria multiply in the lymph nodes, toxemia progresses and the potential for widespread tissue dissemination, destruction and organ failure increases. Severe breathing difficulty, meningitis and shock can follow. Up to 90 percent of untreated cases of inhalational anthrax result in death.

"This study provides significant insight into the pathogenesis of anthrax infection, tracing the connection between B. anthracis gene expression to its effect on host response," said Colonel John P. Skvorak, commander of USAMRIID.

USAMRIID, located at Fort Detrick, Maryland, is the lead medical research laboratory for the U.S. Department of Defense Biological Defense Research Program, and plays a key role in national defense and in infectious disease research. The Institute conducts basic and applied research on biological threats resulting in medical solutions (such as vaccines, drugs and diagnostics) to protect the warfighter. While USAMRIID's primary mission is focused on the military, its research often has applications that benefit society as a whole. USAMRIID is a subordinate laboratory of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

Caree Vander Linden | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.us.army.mil
http://www.usamriid.army.mil

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>