Anthrax Toxins Reduce Pain by Altering Signaling in Pain-Sensing Neurons and Can Deliver Molecular Cargo

Anthrax has a scary reputation. Widely known to cause serious lung infections in humans and unsightly, albeit painless, skin lesions in livestock and people, the anthrax bacterium has even been used as a weapon of terror. Now, the findings of a new study suggest the dreaded microbe also has unexpected beneficial potential—one of its toxins can silence multiple types of pain in animals. The research reveals that this specific anthrax toxin works to alter signaling in pain-sensing neurons and, when delivered in a targeted manner into neurons of the central and peripheral nervous system, can offer relief to animals in distress. The work, led by investigators at Harvard Medical School (HMS) in collaboration with industry scientists and researchers from other institutions, was published online on December 20, 2021 in Nature Neuroscience. The article is titled “Anthrax Toxins Regulate Pain Signaling and Can Deliver Molecular Cargoes into ANTXR2+ DRG Sensory Neurons.”

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