Research on antidote for anthrax
Scientists have doubled up their efforts to develop an antidote for the dreaded disease anthrax, the possibility of which has become a serious threat in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the USA.
In an article published in the journal Current Biology, researchers at the Harvard Medical School in Boston have reported identifying a gene in mice that seems to be resistant to the anthrax bacterium. Some mice are born with this gene and are thus naturally more resistant than others. A gene called Kif1C is present in all mice; however its anthrax-resistant mutant form is present only in some of them. Scientists observed that mice with the mutant form of the gene produced 4 times more anthrax-surviving immune cells than other mice. Experts believe that the knowledge about molecular interactions in case of anthrax toxins could help them in developing vaccines combating the deadly disease.
The identification of such a gene in humans will help to identify those individuals who would need immediate attention in case of a biological attack. These individuals, once identified could then be inoculated against the disease on a priority basis.
Various governments all around the world are already talking of making preparations to combat such an eventuality. In a recent high-level meeting in New Delhi, the Union Health Minister, Dr. C.P. Thakur decided to upgrade the National Institute of Virology at Pune. He also said that hospital bed facility would be improved for patient care in case of biological and chemical warfare. In Pakistan, defence laboratories in various important cities are preparing vaccines against biological agents. The possibility of biological warfare has resulted in an increased demand for microbiologists and more research projects. Makers of a new smallpox vaccine in the United States have increased production fearing biological attacks. The disease was officially eradicated in the 1970's.
Health authorities worldwide are concerned about the possible implications of a biological germ attack since it can be totally sudden and unexpected and can result in the death of thousands of innocent victims.
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