Science News

Anthrax bacteria can be killed with small fragments of antibodies

It is possible to counter the anthrax bacterium by slowing down its growth by destroying what can be considered as an armor that this microorganism has to defend itself against. The study, published in Nature Microbiology, was conducted by Antonella Fioravanti, a researcher in the laboratory of Professor Han Remaut, Institute of Flanders for Biotechnology.

Anthrax is a deadly disease for humans and for most mammals (a major problem for cattle, for example) and one of the main features of the bacterium that the proxy, the Bacillus anthracis, has been for a long time its high resistance. While for humans today its spread has dropped a lot thanks to better hygiene, anthrax can be considered a danger to many other wild animals.

At the same time, it can still represent a danger to human beings who are in contact with them. And this without talking about its possible uses as a biological weapon in the context of so-called bioterrorism. According to Fioravanti, the discovery he made was “an unexpected bonus.” The researcher was in fact using small fragments of antibodies, called Nanobodies, to study the structure of the armor that these bacteria use.

By performing this analysis, the researchers gathered that these fragments proved to be very effective in breaking the layers of this armor and therefore in slowing the growth of bacteria. These were surprising effects that persisted even when Nanobodies were tested on infected mice.

At this point, the researchers intend to understand if this method can also be used for other types of bacteria that use similar “armor” but the result that seems to have reached with the anthrax bacterium already appears excellent.