Can you fight cancer with anthrax?

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Anthrax has been used around the world as a biological weapon for nearly a century. But what if this deadly toxin could be used to fight cancer and save lives? (KFSN)

Anthrax has been used around the world as a biological weapon for nearly a century. But what if this deadly toxin could be used to fight cancer and save lives?

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are taking one of Earth's deadliest toxins and transforming it into a cancer killer.

Bradley Pentelute, PhD, Professor of Chemistry at MIT told ABC30, "We're repurposing nature. It's going from the kiss of death to the kiss of life."

Pentelute explains what happens when somebody is infected with Bacillus anthraxis, the bacteria that produces anthrax toxin.

"The cell doesn't know what to do so it eventually dies and that's why it's so toxic. Because once these molecules get in the cell, there's no return," Pentelute said.

Since the toxin can get into nearly any cell, researchers asked this question, "Can we take nature's machinery and can we reengineer it so that it's no longer toxic?" said Pentelute.

That's exactly what is now underway in animal studies.

Pentelute told ABC30, "It still left one critical function which is this delivery function, and the delivery function allows us now to hijack that and deliver next generation cancer therapeutics inside cells."

Delivering antibodies to target and kill cancer cells in animal models, paving the way for the development of new drugs for cancer.

Right now the research is focused on treating leukemia and brain cancer, but the delivery system could be used for other diseases in the future.

For more information on this report, please contact:

Bradley L. Pentelute
Pfizer-Laubach Career Development Professor of Chemistry
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
blp@mit.edu


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healthhealth watchhealth carecanceranthrax
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