Navigation Links
Defending against chemical acts of terrorism

Researchers may have found a way to protect us against otherwise deadly chemical attacks, such as the subway sarin incident in Tokyo that left thirteen people dead and thousands more injured or with temporary vision problems. The method is based on a new and improved version of a detoxifying enzyme produced naturally by our livers, according to the report in the April 2012 issue of Chemistry & Biology, a Cell Press publication.

"The sarin attack in Tokyo in 1995 demonstrated that both the raw materials and know-how of producing deadly nerve agents are available to people outside government or military institutions," said Moshe Goldsmith of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. "We hope that our work would provide a prophylactic drug that will effectively protect the medical, police, and other teams that will have to act in a contaminated area following such an attack and would also provide these teams with a drug that could be administered on-site to intoxicated individuals to greatly improve their chances of survival."

Today, protection against nerve agents relies primarily on physical barriers such as gas masks and protective suits that can easily be breached, Goldsmith explained. Following exposure, people are treated with drugs that help with the symptoms but don't eliminate the nerve agent.

Goldsmith and the study's senior author Dan Tawfik hope to change this, relying on the principles of evolution to produce a more efficient version of an enzyme that occurs naturally in all of us. Known as paraoxonase 1 (PON1), this enzyme was originally named for its ability to assist in the breakdown of the insecticide paraoxon. It is also involved in drug metabolism and detoxification.

PON1 normally does counteract G-type nerve agents, including sarin, tabun, soman, and cyclosarin, but not well enough. Tawfik's lab specializes in a technique called "directed enzyme evolution,"in which they artificially introduce mutations into the gene encoding a target enzyme, in this case PON1. The mutated versions of the gene are then put back into bacteria, which produce the enzymes for testing. The goal was to end up with enzymes capable of detoxifying G-type nerve agents before those nerve agents could reach their target and cause harm. Those that passed the initial test went on to further rounds of evolution and testing.

After four rounds of evolution, the researchers obtained PON1 variants that worked up to 340 times better than those produced previously. Overall, the researches reported that the PON1 variants showed 40- to 3,400-fold higher efficiency than the normal enzyme in metabolizing the three most toxic G-type nerve agents.

These new and improved PON1 enzymes have become promising candidates for use as preventive and postexposure treatments in the event of a terrorist attack.

"We hope that our enzymes would be able to act together with currently available drugs to improve survival rates following intoxication," Goldsmith said. More broadly, the findings show the power of laboratory evolution to completely reshape existing enzymes for a variety of uses.


Contact: Elisabeth (Lisa) Lyons
Cell Press

Related biology technology :

1. 3M Withdraws Blackmail Claims Against Harvey Boulter From New York Court
2. Nanosurgery and the fight against cancer: Major breakthrough at Polytechnique Montral
3. Synergy Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Files Suit Against Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and its Chief Scientific Officer and Senior VP of R&D, Dr. Mark G. Currie
4. MU researchers identify key plant immune response in fight against bacteria
5. Fox Insurance Company Awarded $3.3 Million in Arbitration Against Former Pharmacy Benefit Manager
6. Stemline Therapeutics, Inc. Announces Two Poster Presentations of SL-401 Efficacy Data Against Lymphoid Cancers at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH)
7. Taksta™ (fusidic acid) Demonstrates Activity Against MRSA Isolated From Cystic Fibrosis Patients
8. SomaGenics sshRNA Technology Demonstrates Efficacy of RNAi Against Hepatitis C Virus
9. Kelly Price Joins Los Angeles County Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure in the Fight Against Breast Cancer
10. World Hepatitis Alliance Warns that Stigma is a Major Threat to New Initiative Against Hepatitis Epidemic
11. Trudeau Institute announces a discovery in the fight against sepsis
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/23/2016)... SPRING, Md. , June 23, 2016 A ... collected from the crime scene to track the criminal down. ... and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses DNA ... Sound far-fetched? It,s not. The ... genome sequencing to support investigations of foodborne illnesses. Put as ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), a university competition that asks ... systems and biotechnology, announced its winning teams at the ... York City . The teams, chosen ... MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater during the daylong summit. Keynote ... of architecture and design, and Suzanne Lee , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Durham, NC (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... Odense University Hospital in Denmark detail how a patient who developed lymphedema after being ... (fat) tissue. The results could change the paradigm for dealing with this debilitating, frequent ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 On Wednesday, June 22, 2016, ... 0.22%; the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.27% lower to ... down 0.17%. has initiated coverage on the following equities: ... (NASDAQ: NKTR ), Aralez Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ... BIND ). Learn more about these stocks by accessing their ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:6/2/2016)... Perimeter Surveillance & Detection Systems, Biometrics & ... & Other Service  The latest report from ... of the global Border Security market . Visiongain ... billion in 2016. Now: In November 2015 ... and hardware technologies for advanced video surveillance. ...
(Date:5/16/2016)... NEW YORK , May 16, 2016   ... authentication solutions, today announced the opening of an IoT ... to strengthen and expand the development of embedded ... provides an unprecedented level of convenience and security with ... to authenticate one,s identity aside from DNA. EyeLock,s platform ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... BANGALORE, India , April 28, 2016 ... of Infosys (NYSE: INFY ), and Samsung SDS, ... partnership that will provide end customers with a more ... payment services.      (Logo: ) ... financial services, but it also plays a fundamental part in ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):