Toxic structure

Figuring out how the anthrax toxin enters cells could help researchers develop an effective antidote, according to a Californian team that has determined the crystal structure of the binding complex between anthrax toxin and one of its host receptors on our cells. The structure provides new insights into the biological action of anthrax, which can kill even once the microbe itself is dead. The researchers suggest that differences between the interaction of the anthrax toxin with this receptor and a second to which it also binds could be exploited in designing a novel antidote that would have little detrimental effect on healthy tissue. They suggest an antidote may be available within two years.