September 29, 2012

Overcoming the Limitations of Antibodies

After 9/11, there were several new forms of terrorist attacks. Among them, envelopes with white powder were sent to banks, political, and government buildings within the United States which caused the deaths of five individuals. The white powder was found to be anthrax, a bacteria called bacillus anthracis which causes a serious infectious disease. Inhalation of anthrax spores infects the body through the lungs. Anthrax releases several toxic substances and an infection of the lungs if left untreated is usually fatal.

The most crucial factor in identifying anthrax is to identify the diseases’ protein. This is currently done using antibodies. However, the production of antibodies is costly and the process is complicated. In addition, it is easily affected by environmental factors such as humidity and temperature. This makes it hard to preserve its effectiveness. This is also the reason why pregnancy test kits, which also use antibodies, are vacuum packed.