skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

Scripps Announces Discovery Of Anthrax-Killing Compound

Aired 7/19/13 on KPBS News.

A compound that appears to be an effective killer of anthrax and other infectious organisms was discovered by a researcher in the ocean off Santa Barbara, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography announced today.

A compound that appears to be an effective killer of anthrax and other infectious organisms was discovered by a researcher in the ocean off Santa Barbara, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography announced today.

A researcher wears a biohazard suit at Fort Detrick, Md., where the FBI says Army scientist Bruce Ivins produced the deadly anthrax used in the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people. After Ivins committed suicide in 2008, the FBI accused him of the crime.
Enlarge this image

Above: A researcher wears a biohazard suit at Fort Detrick, Md., where the FBI says Army scientist Bruce Ivins produced the deadly anthrax used in the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people. After Ivins committed suicide in 2008, the FBI accused him of the crime.

Scripps researcher Chris Kauffman collected the microorganism that produces the compound last year from sediments close to shore.

The unusual structure of the compound, which was named anthracimycin, was tested by the Scripps Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine and San Diego-based Trius Therapeutics.

Initial results revealed its potency as a killer of anthrax, the infectious disease often feared as a biological weapon, according to Scripps.

"The real importance of this work is the fact that anthracimycin has a new and unique chemical structure,'' said William Fenical, who led Kauffman's team.

Fenical said the finding could lead to testing and development of a drug.

"The discovery of truly new antibiotic compounds is quite rare,'' Fenical said. "This discovery adds to many previous discoveries that show that marine bacteria are genetically and chemically unique.''

The testing also showed promise that the compound could be effective against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MSRA.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says MSRA is a difficult-to-treat form of staph bacteria that can infect hospital patients and athletes in locker rooms.

Scripps said the discovery provides new evidence that the oceans, and many of its unexplored regions, could yield new materials that can be used in the future to treat a variety of diseases and illnesses.

The discovery was reported in the international edition of the German journal Angewandte Chemie.

Please stay on topic and be as concise as possible. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Community Discussion Rules. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus