Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Detecting anthrax proteins at ultralow concentrations

30.08.2005


A new laboratory method for quickly detecting active anthrax proteins within an infected blood sample at extremely low levels has been developed by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the National Cancer Institute.


A computer model shows side and top views of two different proteins produced by anthrax bacteria. The green molecule is "protective antigen" (PA), which spontaneously forms pores that penetrate organic membranes such as cell walls. The yellow molecule is "lethal factor (LF)." When a voltage is applied across a membrane studded with PA pores, both positive and negative ions flow through. Once LF binds to the pore, however, current only flows in one direction. Image credit: T. Nguyen, National Cancer Institute



Current detection methods rely on injecting live animals or cell cultures with samples for analysis and require up to several days before results are available. Described* in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the new method produces unambiguous results in about an hour. The researchers hope the system will ultimately be useful in developing fast, reliable ways to diagnose anthrax infections or to quickly screen large numbers of drugs as possible therapies for blocking the bacteria’s toxic effects.

The method works by detecting changes in current flow when anthrax proteins are present in a solution. An anthrax protein ironically called "protective antigen" spontaneously forms nanometer-scale pores that penetrate the surface of an organic membrane. When a voltage is applied across the membrane, positively and negatively charged ions flow freely in both directions through the pore. When additional anthrax proteins called lethal factor (LF) or edema factor (EF) are present, however, the proteins bind to the outside of the pore and shut down the flow of ions in one direction. This change in current flow depends on the concentration of the proteins in the solution and can detect amounts as low as 10 picomolar (trillionths of a mole).


"We hope this system will lead to a method for rapidly screening agents that inhibit the binding of LF or EF to these pores," says NIST’s lead investigator John Kasianowicz.

Live anthrax antibodies seem to do exactly that. When antibodies were present in the test solution and then LF was added, the current flow remained unchanged, indicating that the anthrax proteins were unable to bind properly. The long-term goal would be to find drugs with few side effects that also interfere with this binding process.

Michael Baum | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nist.gov

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>