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Newly discovered protein kills anthrax bacteria by exploding their cell walls

in a very specific pH range of six to seven, so that they work very effectively in our bloodstream, but may not useful in many environmental conditions. "PlyPH works in an extremely wide pH range, from as low as four to as high as eight," says Fischetti. "I don't know of any other lytic enzyme that has such a broad range of activity."

In addition, PlyPH, like PlyG, is highly specific in terms of the types of bacteria it affects. When Fischetti and colleagues added PlyPH to different bacterial species, only the anthrax bacteria were killed. This is a great benefit over antibiotics, which kill many different kinds of bacteria, including many helpful species. Because it is so specific, the chances of anthrax becoming resistant to PlyPH, as it is to many of the antibiotics currently available to treat it, are extremely low.

"We have never seen bacterial resistance to a lysin," says Fischetti. "PlyPH and PlyG are probably the most specific lysins we, or anyone, has ever identified -- they only kill anthrax and its very close relatives. This feature, and the wide pH range offered by PlyPH, is why we think it could be used as an environmental decontaminant."

Fischetti hopes to combine PlyPH with a non-toxic aqueous substance developed by a group in California that will germinate any anthrax spores it comes in contact with. As the spores germinate, the PlyPH protein will kill them, usually in a matter of minutes. The combined solution could be used in buildings, on transportation equipment, on clothing, even on skin, providing a safe, easy way to fight the spread of anthrax in the event of a mass release.


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Source:Rockefeller University


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