Midnight In The Desert — anthrax

How Did Anthrax Flare Up In Siberia?

Posted by K R on

How Did Anthrax Flare Up In Siberia?

In Russia last week several cases of anthrax were reported in a nomadic reindeer herding community. Eight people have been formally diagnosed with the disease and one 12-year-old boy has died. Anthrax today is commonly thought of as a biological weapon, but anthrax isn't man-made. The disease, caused by a bacteria, shows up in oblique references in written texts as early as 1250 BC. The bacteria occurs naturally in soil, only becoming dangerous when they enter the body of a human or animal, where they multiply, producing a toxin that can cause a host of unpleasant and deadly symptoms ranging...

Read more →

UK Government Lab Accidentally Mailed Out Live Anthrax

Posted by K R on

UK Government Lab Accidentally Mailed Out Live Anthrax

The Centers for Disease Control has some dubious competition in the mishandling deadly pathogens business. A investigation by the Guardian reveals dozens of serious safety lapses in UK labs. In one case, a government lab shipped out live anthrax because someone had grabbed the wrong tubes. The Guardian found 70 incidents in the past five years at UK government, university, and hospital labs handling deadly pathogens that were serious enough to warrant an investigation from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), roughly equivalent to the U.S.'s OSHA. In many cases, the screw-ups were so bad, the lab had to be...

Read more →

Scientists Are Using Anthrax to Cure Cancer

Posted by K R on

Scientists Are Using Anthrax to Cure Cancer

Bacillus anthracis bacteria have very efficient machinery for injecting toxic proteins into cells, leading to the potentially deadly infection known as anthrax. A team of MIT researchers has now hijacked that delivery system for a different purpose: administering cancer drugs. “Anthrax toxin is a professional at delivering large enzymes into cells,” says Bradley Pentelute, the Pfizer-Laubauch Career Development Assistant Professor of Chemistry at MIT. “We wondered if we could render anthrax toxin nontoxic, and use it as a platform to deliver antibody drugs into cells.” In a paper appearing in the journal ChemBioChem, Pentelute and colleagues showed that they could...

Read more →