New medical weapons against anthrax attacks

London: The 2001 anthrax attacks in the US are fostering development of a new generation of vaccines and antibiotics to protect people against deadly bacteria in future bio-terrorist incidents.

Dimitrios Bouzianas, molecular endocrinologist, AHEPA University Hospital in Macedonia, Greece, notes that several existing antibiotics are available to combat an anthrax infection.

However, the emergence of artificially engineered B. anthracis strains, resistant to multiple antibiotics (including the front-line agents ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, and ß-lactam antibiotics) has prompted researchers to pursue additional therapeutic options.

Such alternatives include small molecules and antibodies against toxins that the lethal bacteria secrete.

Today`s drug arsenal has another weakness: no medications available to fight the dangerous toxin that can circulate in a person`s blood when antibiotic treatment begins after the disease has taken hold.

Therefore, there is an urgent need for the discovery of antitoxin agents that would be effective at the end stage of anthrax.

Bouzianas describes promising new treatments to be in various stages of development.
They include a new genre of anthrax vaccines that would be more effective and yet require fewer doses than current vaccines, says a release of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

For instance, a long-sought inhalable vaccine that people might self-administer without a needle.

Importantly, this powered vaccine would not require refrigeration and would have a long shelf life - ideal for the strategic drug stockpiles kept on hand for rapid distribution in case of national emergencies.

These findings appear in ACS` bi-weekly Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.


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