Scottish researchers testing drug to fight bioterrorism

Scottish researchers are set to begin human tests on a drug that can interrupt cardiac arrest and heal damaged tissues and could be used to fight biological warfare agents.

Eighty people will take part in the tests, which will measure the formula for elafin, a protein that seeks out and destroys the enzymes that are responsible for catastrophic organ and tissue injury following major trauma or infection, reports.

“It is a beautiful protein," Dr. Peter Henriksen, a cardiac specialist, told "Elafin has a neutralizing effect and a very destructive effect on enzymes, which break down other proteins and are central to the initial inflammatory response in many diseases.

“It seems not only to be able to neutralize the effects but it has an effect of directly removing or killing off bacteria."

Elafin is a protein that aids the skin and lungs in healing. The body naturally creates elafin to protect the organs that are most frequently attacked by outside infection.

In addition to its potential to fight biological warfare agents, including anthrax and the plague, the elafin pill is being tested as an asthma treatment and to improve survival rates following liver transplants.

Proteo Biotech owns the world rights to produce elafin compounds for humans. Edinburgh University recently signed an agreement the company to develop the elafin drug.