A faster, more sensitive method for detecting anthrax

Nov 05, 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: Chemists develop new way to make cost-effective material for electricity storage

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Turning a vole into a mighty rodent

10 minutes ago

Take a wild, common forest-dwelling mouse-like rodent, known as a vole, and subject it to 13 rounds of selection for increased aerobic exercise metabolism, and what do you get? A mighty "mouse" with a 48 percent higher peak ...

Recommended for you

Fluid-filled pores separate materials with precision

14 hours ago

In nature, pores can continuously control how a living organism absorbs or excretes fluids, vapors and solids in response to its environment; for example, tiny holes invisible to the naked eye called stomata ...

User comments : 0

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.