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: Dead feeder cells support stem cell growth

Related Stories

New, unusually large virus kills anthrax agent

Jan 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 ...

This breathalyzer reveals signs of disease (w/ Video)

May 08, 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 ...

Recommended for you

Dead feeder cells support stem cell growth

Apr 24, 2015

Stem cells naturally cling to feeder cells as they grow in petri dishes. Scientists have thought for years that this attachment occurs because feeder cells serve as a support system, providing stems cells ...

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.