The end came fast for the five people who died of inhalation anthrax last fall, all victims of the first purposeful release of anthrax spores in the U.S. Within days of showing initially unalarming symptoms, they were gone, despite intensive treatment with antibiotics. Those cases, and the near deaths of other victims, starkly highlight the need for additional therapies in the event of future attacks.
Fortunately, our laboratories and others began studying the causative bacterium, B. anthracis, and seeking antidotes long before fall 2001. Recent findings are now pointing the way to new medicines and improved vaccines. Indeed, in the past year alone, the two of us and our collaborators have reported on three promising drug prototypes.
This article was originally published with the title Attacking Anthrax.