Issue Date: March 23, 2009
FDA Research Targets Anthrax Detection
In terrorists' hands, anthrax spores pose a significant risk to homeland security. To help reduce that risk or the consequences of an anthrax attack, Indira K. Hewlett, chief of FDA's Laboratory of Molecular Virology, and her colleagues were able to demonstrate a quick and accurate test for anthrax toxin (Clin. Vaccine Immunol. 2009, 16, 408). The europium nanoparticle-based immunoassay detects the presence of a protein made by anthrax bacteria known as the protected antigen. This antigen combines with another protein called the lethal factor to form anthrax lethal factor toxin, the protein that enters cells and causes toxic effects. The nanotechnology-based assay significantly improves the detection capabilities for anthrax compared with currently available assays such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The findings "could form the basis of a test that allows earlier diagnosis of anthrax infection than currently possible," Hewlett said in a press release.
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