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Anthrax Bacteria May Go Undetected For Days

Update Date: Nov 18, 2013 07:16 AM EST
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The anthrax bacteria is able to penetrate inside a cell and hide itself in such a manner that even medical analysis cannot detect it sometimes, a study finds. The bacteria uses the same strategy as Trojan horse tale.

The bacterium which is responsible for anthrax doesn’t stop after hiding itself inside cells. After few days it somehow manages to exit the cells and then move on affecting other cells.

The study was conducted by scientists from EPFL, National Institute of Health in Washington and University of California at Berkeley. Hopefully the study addresses the explanation of the fact that sometimes living organisms fail to resist to a disease after disappearance of symptoms few weeks later.

“This remained a mystery for more than 50 years”, said Gisou van der Goot in a press release, who heads a research unit at EPFL’s Global Health Institute. “The bacteria would disappear after the administration of antibiotics, but the subject still died a few days later.”

The study was focused on the mechanism by which anthrax toxin was able to get inside the cell. The toxin was composed of two elements - a “protective antigen” and a “lethal factor”. These toxins instead creating passage across the cellular membrane, admit themselves through the process of endocytosis. Endocytosis is a process in which the pathogen is nearly swallowed by the cell.

“The immune system has no reason to react, since it only detects exosomes whose membrane is composed by the very same molecules making up the cell’s endosomes.” added Gisou van der Goot.

“There is still much to learn about exosomes. The results of this research will help us to better understand them,” concluded Gisou van der Goot.

The findings of the study was published in the Cell Reports journal.

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