Bacterial enzyme can seek and destroy chemical weapons

September 25th, 2008 - 11:40 am ICT by ANI  

Washington, September 25 (ANI): Texas A&M University chemists are working on a bacterial enzyme that can neutralize a deadly agent that can be used by terrorists for making chemical weapons.
Dr. Frank Raushel, one of the experts associated with the project, has revealed that this chemical agent is called the organophosphate, which started its journey as insecticides in the Thirties.
He has revealed that organophosphates made their way into the dangerous alleys of chemical warfare during World War II.
The researcher, who has been working on detoxification of organophosphates for nearly a decade, considers the organophosphate nerve agents toxic properties to be a serious threat to the health and well being of civilized societies.
Raushel has received a four-year grant of 1.2million dollars from the National Institutes of Health to carry out his work on organophosphates.
He defines organophosphates as neurotoxins that attack the nervous system by blocking the function of the enzyme acetylcholine esterase, which carries nerve signals.
When organs such as the lungs do not receive appropriate nerve signals, control is lost over respiratory muscles, which usually results in death by asphyxiation.
While, some classes of organophosphates are used as insecticides, others have been categorized as chemical weapons of late.
Raushel says that a bacterial enzyme, phosphotriesterase, can recognize and destroy the toxicity of a broad spectrum of organophosphate nerve agents.
He says that his team wants to design and characterize bacterial phosphotriesterases that are better at detecting, destroying and detoxifying those organophosphates that pose the most serious threats to human health. (ANI)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in National |