MONDAY, Aug. 28, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A new anthrax toxin inhibitor designed to fight antibiotic-resistant strains performed successfully in laboratory and animal tests, a new study says.
This new inhibitor was developed by scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and at the University of Toronto, and reported on in the Aug. 28 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Anthrax bacteria secrete a toxin that harms a host organism. Most anthrax therapies target the anthrax bacteria or the toxin.
This new inhibitor blocks the receptors where anthrax toxin attaches in the body. The inhibitor is able to bind to multiple sites on the host receptor, which makes it much more potent than an inhibitor that binds to a single site, the researchers said.
They found that the new approach led to a 50,000-fold increase in potency in cell culture studies and the inhibitor protected six rats injected with anthrax toxin.
Once it's fully developed, the new inhibitor could help reduce the number of deaths caused by inhalation anthrax, which has a death rate of 75 percent even after patients are given antibiotics.
The scientists also said the general concept of this research could also be applied to designing inhibitors to protect against other diseases, including influenza, HIV/AIDS and SARS.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about anthrax.