Researchers discover new target for anthrax drugs

University of Michigan researchers recently announced that they have identified a new target for drugs that could one day treat anthrax infection.

The team, led by Dr. David Sherman of the UM Life Sciences Institute, found a means to potentially block the anthrax bacteria, Bacillus anthracis, from capturing iron, which is vital to its survival and a critical part of its disease-causing mechanism, according to

The discovery will allow scientists to search for new antibiotics that can effectively treat and prevent anthrax infection. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are urgently needed to fight drug-resistant infectious agents such as anthrax.

"This organism continues to be a serious security threat, as there are inadequate responses to natural or engineered drug-resistant forms of the micro-organism," Sherman said, reports.

Sherman said that while an actual treatment for anthrax based on the discovery remains years away, the process will be expedited through the use of the throughput screening at U-M's Center for Chemical Genomics.

"We are already following active extracts from a large natural products library and hope to have new structures of antibiotic molecules very soon," Sherman said, according to "Our efforts are part of a major program funded by the Great Lakes Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Disease to identify new small molecule antibiotics and vaccines against biowarfare agents and other high-risk infectious microbes."