Anthrax Stopper: Viral enzyme detects, kills bacterium | Science News

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Anthrax Stopper: Viral enzyme detects, kills bacterium

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9:22am, August 21, 2002

Last fall, envelopes full of anthrax-causing spores killed 5 people, sickened about a dozen, and struck fear in millions. Researchers funded by the U.S. military have now developed an innovative way to detect and kill Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax. Seeking help from nature, the researchers are using an enzyme produced by a bacteriophage, a virus that preys upon bacteria.

The enzyme, called lysin, prevented the death of most mice that the researchers had infected with a bacterial relative of B. anthracis, Raymond Schuch of Rockefeller University in New York and his colleagues there report in the Aug. 22 Nature. The investigat

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