Indian scientists find new drug targets in anthrax bacteria

A team of researchers from Guntur District, India, recently found a means of combating anthrax infection by directly attacking its genetic material and protein molecules.

Scientists from Acharya Nagarjuna University's department of biotechnology said that they have identified 270 non-human and non-redundant homologous genes and 103 essential genes in Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax, according to

The newly identified genes are believed to aid the anthrax bacterium's metabolism and defense against more commonly used antibiotics.

The team believes that the genes can be targeted in order to kill even drug resistant forms of the bacteria in the event of an epidemic and added that the discovery could potentially aid in the development of new types of antibiotics.

Anthrax is considered to be a major potential weapon of bioterrorism, but also occurs naturally. The bacteria are not spread from person to person and can exist in a dormant state in the form of spores for many years. The spores can activate when they come into contact with human skin, are ingested or inhaled, reports.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies anthrax as a category A biological agent, placing it among those pathogens that are the most dangerous to public health.