The scientists, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, say their research might also be applicable to other disease toxins.
Federally funded researchers Ravi Kane of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and Jeremy Mogridge of the University of Toronto built a "functionalized liposome" that hampers a critical early step in the assembly process that anthrax toxin must undergo to become fully active. In test-tube experiments, the inhibitor was 10,000 times more potent than unattached peptides.
"If the effectiveness of anthrax inhibitors designed in this fashion is confirmed by additional testing, they could one day be important adjuncts to standard antibiotic therapy for the treatment of inhalation anthrax," said NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The research appears in the online edition of the journal Nature Biotechnology.