Researchers find a new way to potentially thwart anthrax

In a new study, NYU School of Medicine researchers have found what may be an Achilles’ heel of deadly anthrax — a system that the bacteria use to communicate their presence to others of their kind. The researchers, Martin Blaser, M.D., the Frederick King Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medicine, and Professor of Microbiology and graduate student Marcus Jones, describe a “quorum-sensing system” in anthrax that is a type of bacterial “calling card.” Disrupting this system may open new avenues to prevention and treatment of anthrax, says Dr. Blaser.

Making a safer anthrax vaccine using spinach

Researchers have developed a strategy for making a safer anthrax vaccine: enlisting the help of spinach plants to manufacture a key component. They report their findings today at the American Society for Microbiology’s Biodefense Research Meeting. “Protective antigen (PA) of Bacillus anthracis is one of the three components of the anthrax toxin,” says Alexander Karasev, a lead researcher on the study. “Purified PA is currently used as a vaccine against anthrax. However, the licensed vaccine derived from apathogenic B. anthracis has side effects and a more efficacious and safer vaccine is needed.”