A strategy to neutralize anthrax toxin in the body

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Harvard scientists have found a chink in the anthrax armor

A Harvard Medical School research team has developed a strategy to neutralize anthrax toxin in the body. So far they have tried the treatment in rats. Normally, rats die within hours after being injected with anthrax toxin. But when the toxin was followed minutes later with an injection of an inhibiting agent known as a polyvalent ligand — itself completely innocuous — the rats were protected from the toxin’s effects. Asked if the polyvalent ligand can be tested in humans, research team leader R. John Collier said “There will be a lot of hoops to jump through first, but we’ll push forward.” Collier is the Maude and Lillian Presley professor of microbiology and molecular genetics. He collaborated on the research with postdoc Michael Mourez and Harvard chemist George Whitesides. The research was published in the October 2001 issue of Nature Biotechnology.