A faster, more sensitive method for detecting anthrax

November 5, 2007
Anthrax
Anthrax spores as photographed under an electron microscope. Credit: Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Amid continuing concerns that anthrax might be used as a bioterrorism weapon, government researchers report development of a faster, more sensitive blood test for detecting the deadly toxins produced by the anthrax bacterium, Bacillus anthracis. The test produces results in only 4 hours and could save lives by allowing earlier detection of infection, they say.

Their study is scheduled for publication in the Nov. 22 issue of ACS’ Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.

Standard identification of anthrax (Bacillus anthracis) infection relies on a combination of time-consuming steps, including cell culture and gene amplification, which can take several days to provide a diagnosis and have limitations for detecting early stages of infection. Early diagnosis is critical for effective treatment of pulmonary or inhalation anthrax, the most deadly form.

John R. Barr and colleagues in a multi-center team effort used a form of mass spectrometry to detect the presence of ‘lethal factor,’ the key toxin produced by the anthrax bug, in the blood of monkeys with inhalation anthrax. The method took only four hours to identify the toxin and detected it at very low levels, demonstrating its potential for early detection of infection, the researchers say.

The new method also shows promise as a research tool for providing a better understanding of the anthrax infection cycle and for evaluating the effectiveness of different therapies and methods to fight infections.

Source: ACS

Explore further: Innovative technique may transform the hunt for new antibiotics and cancer therapies

Related Stories

New, unusually large virus kills anthrax agent

January 27, 2014

From a zebra carcass on the plains of Namibia in Southern Africa, an international team of researchers has discovered a new, unusually large virus (or bacteriophage) that infects the bacterium that causes anthrax. The novel ...

This breathalyzer reveals signs of disease (w/ Video)

May 8, 2012

(Phys.org) -- This invention could give new meaning to the term "bad breath!" It's the Single Breath Disease Diagnostics Breathalyzer, and when you blow into it, you get tested for a biomarker—a sign of disease. As amazing ...

Recommended for you

New blow for 'supersymmetry' physics theory

July 27, 2015

In a new blow for the futuristic "supersymmetry" theory of the universe's basic anatomy, experts reported fresh evidence Monday of subatomic activity consistent with the mainstream Standard Model of particle physics.

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.