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KU Med researchers share anthrax discovery


Kansas University Medical Center researchers, along with researchers from Harvard Medical School, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and William Jewell College, have made a discovery that could be used to eventually prevent anthrax infections from harming humans.
Although it is known that anthrax is comprised of three proteins, the discovery specifically looks at the structure of the protective antigen pore protein, which is responsible for the delivery of toxins in human cells, according to a press release.

Researchers used an electron microscope to study the structure of the protein. Hiroo Katayma, a biochemistry and molecular biology graduate student, was the one to discover the protein essentially formed a syringe-like appendage which injected the toxins into human cells.

This discovery could eventually lead to prevent anthrax infections from even taking place, rather than requiring a vaccine.

Mark Fisher, KUMC professor of biochemistry and molecular biology who led the research, said that finding drugs that could prevent the structure from forming would be a “first line of defense.”