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Discovery and Development of Anthrax Lethal Factor Metalloproteinase Inhibitors

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Anthrax is caused by infection with Bacillus anthracis, a spore forming, rod-shaped, encapsulated gram positive bacteria. The disease manifests itself in distinct ways depending on the route of entry of infective bacterial spores: cutaneous, inhalational, and gastrointestinal. Though rare in humans, inhalational anthrax has become a major concern due to the capacity for spores to be weaponized. The limited success of antibiotic therapy has motivated investigation of complementary therapeutic strategies that target the bacteria's secreted toxin. The zinc-dependent metalloproteinase lethal factor (LF) is a critical component of anthrax toxin and an important potential target for small molecule drugs. In the past few years, a number of approaches have been taken to identify LF inhibitors, from generating conventional metal chelating substrate analogs to random screening of diverse compound libraries. These efforts have produced several different classes of specific nanomolar range inhibitors. Some compounds have fared well in animal models for anthrax toxemia and infection, and these inhibitors and their derivatives may form the basis for future therapies to treat the disease in humans.

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Keywords: Anthrax; bacterial toxins; drug discovery; metalloenzymes; protease inhibitors; proteases

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2008

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  • Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. Each issue of the journal contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics in both pre-clinical and clinical areas of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology is an essential journal for academic, clinical, government and pharmaceutical scientists who wish to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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