Drug gives anthrax protection in animal studies

July 8, 2009 By MALCOLM RITTER , AP Science Writer

(AP) -- An experimental drug helped monkeys and rabbits survive anthrax in a series of studies, suggesting it could be useful in case of another anthrax attack.

In 2001, five people died after inhaling germs they'd gotten through the U.S. mail.

Doctors now use antibiotics to prevent or treat anthrax, and there is also an anthrax vaccine. The experimental drug works a different way - by blocking deadly anthrax toxin from entering cells. Researchers say it could be combined with antibiotics.

The company that developed the under federal contract has already delivered 20,000 doses to the government for emergency use. It has also asked the to approve the drug - called ABthrax - under a rule that lets animal studies substitute for human studies when it's not feasible to test a drug in people.

Results of the federally funded animal research are presented in Thursday's by researchers at Sciences of Rockville, Md.

In one experiment, monkeys got a single dose of a dummy injection or ABthrax two days before inhaling a lethal dose of anthrax. Those that got the placebo died within six days. But of those that got ABthrax, 7 of 10 in one group and 9 of 10 in a higher-dose group were still alive about a month later.

In another experiment, monkeys inhaled anthrax and then were treated after showing signs of infection. Four weeks later, half of the 14 monkeys in one group and 9 of 14 in a higher-dose group had survived.

Rabbit experiments also showed protection. When treated after signs of infection, for example, 8 of 18 rabbits remained alive two weeks later. In contrast, rabbits that had gotten a placebo all died within five days.

The researchers also injected 333 people with ABthrax to check on safety. The only serious development possibly related to the drug was an inflamed gallbladder, which researchers said was probably due to an underlying medical condition.

In an editorial accompanying the study, Dr. Gary Nabel, director of vaccine research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said results suggest ABthrax could provide "an important addition to the existing arsenal" that doctors have against anthrax.

---

On the Net:

New England Journal: http://www.nejm.org

Anthrax information: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/anthrax/basics/factsheets.asp

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

In most surgery patients, length of opioid prescription, number of refills spell highest risk for misuse

January 17, 2018
The possible link between physicians' opioid prescription patterns and subsequent abuse has occupied the attention of a nation in the throes of an opioid crisis looking for ways to stem what experts have dubbed an epidemic. ...

Patients receive most opioids at the doctor's office, not the ER

January 16, 2018
Around the country, state legislatures and hospitals have tightened emergency room prescribing guidelines for opioids to curb the addiction epidemic, but a new USC study shows that approach diverts attention from the main ...

FDA bans use of opioid-containing cough meds by kids

January 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Trying to put a dent in the ongoing opioid addiction crisis, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday slapped strict new restrictions on the use of opioid-containing cold and cough products by kids.

Taking ibuprofen for long periods found to alter human testicular physiology

January 9, 2018
A team of researchers from Denmark and France has found that taking regular doses of the pain reliever ibuprofen over a long period of time can lead to a disorder in men called compensated hypogonadism. In their paper published ...

Nearly one-third of Canadians have used opioids: study

January 9, 2018
Nearly one in three Canadians (29 percent) have used "some form of opioids" in the past five years, according to data released Tuesday as widespread fentanyl overdoses continue to kill.

Growing opioid epidemic forcing more children into foster care

January 8, 2018
The opioid epidemic has become so severe it's considered a national public health emergency. Addiction to prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone and morphine, has contributed to a dramatic rise in overdose deaths and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.