In a series of laboratory tests conducted last summer, rats given the antibody survived 10 times a normally lethal dosage of anthrax toxin.
No anthrax spores were used during any phase of the experiments. The investigators worked with laboratory-synthesized toxin provided by Dr. Stephen Leppla of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.
The rat trials were carried out at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio under the direction of Dr. Jean Patterson.
The researchers indicated that further tests need to be conducted on primates, under conditions more closely emulating the way anthrax is contracted, before a therapeutic drug can be formulated. After that, it must be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval. That process could take several years, but the researchers hope current concerns about bioterrorism will expedite the research.
“Although there is a long way to go, our current data make us very optimistic at this point.” Iverson said.
In addition to anthrax, “engineered antibodies are likely to prove useful for the treatment of many other infectious diseases,” Georgiou said.
Most recently, funding for the project has come from the U.S. Army SACCOM, administered through Dr. Steven Kornguth of the Institute for Advanced Technology at The University of Texas at Austin.
Note to Editors: High resolution images are available at
For further information contact: Becky Rische (512) 471-7272.