New Drug Found to Fight Anthrax

Blocks development of bacteria toxins

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MONDAY, Nov. 18, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- A drug developed at the Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Science Center may block the development of lethal toxins produced by infectious bacteria such as anthrax, says a study in the December issue of Infection and Immunity.

The drug, called D6R, is a potent, stable small molecule that blocks the action of an enzyme called furin.

In anthrax, the lethal factor toxin has to bind to another part of the anthrax toxin, called the PA molecule, before the lethal factor toxin can enter and kill a healthy cell.

Before that binding can happen, the PA molecule has to be made smaller. That's where furin comes into play. Furin is a protein-cutting enzyme that sits on the outside of cells. Furin cuts the PA molecule and makes it small enough to bind with the lethal factor toxin.

Without a cut PA molecule, the lethal factor toxin can't bind and enter and kill a cell.

The new D6R drug developed by the LSU researchers suppresses furin activity.

The LSU researchers tested the effectiveness of D6R against toxin from the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, in cell cultures and in live mice.

This Pseudomonas bacteria causes urinary tract, respiratory and soft tissue infections, among others. The bacteria is also known for its resistance to antibiotics.

In their tests, the LSU scientists found a 50 percent survival rate for live cells 48 hours after being given D6R and Pseudomonas toxin at the same time. There was also about a 50 percent survival rate at seven days for mice who were given D6R for two days before they were administered the Pseudomonas toxin.

The survival rate for mice given D6R and the toxin at the same time was 25 percent.

Future research will test the effectiveness of D6R against anthrax toxin in cells, rats and mice.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about bacterial infections.

SOURCE: Louisiana State University Health Science Center, news release, Nov. 18, 2002

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