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Scientists seek answers on what activates deadly anthrax spores

>The group also will be exploring the three-dimensional structures and the functions of the proteins involved. State-of-the-art facilities at the Center for Structural Biology will be used to determine how genetic information in the anthrax chromosome translates into a vast array of protein structures, Claiborne said. Once they know the structures, they may not only be able to provide new details on how anthrax develops, but also pick out structural vulnerabilities that are key to designing new therapeutic agents to prevent anthrax.

Interest in determining how to stop anthrax remains high, not only after the 2001 attacks through the mail that resulted in 18 cases and five deaths, but also after the recent scare at two military mailroom facilities when anthrax alarms went off.

The group also would like to understand another closely related bacterium, Bacillus cereus, one strain of which can produce anthrax-like symptoms.

The research team includes Conn Mallett, Ph.D., Derek Parsonage, Ph.D., graduate students Carleitta Paige, Jamie Wallen, and Tim Colussi, and senior research assistants Bill Boles, M.S., and Sumana Choudhury, M.S. Paige earlier received a $161,000 graduate fellowship from the Department of Homeland Security to support her research.


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Source:Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center


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