Tularemia, The Rabbit Fever That Worries The Fight Against Terrorism

Tularemia, the rabbit fever that worries the fight against terrorism

The bacterium Francisella tularensis has been deactivated at the molecular level to prevent its use as a potential biological weapon.

Two rabbits that do not raise suspicions.

The Francisella tularensis, the bacterium that spreads tularemia or “rabbit fever“, is a type of microorganism that is in the crosshairs of the fight against terrorism due to its potential as biological weapon. In fact, the F. tularensis was already used during WWII to wreak havoc.

Now, thanks to a recent paper published in the Journal of Genes &Development por A group of researchers from the School of Medicine of the duke university, it will be possible to “deactivate” this potential weapon by genetic modifications.

Tularemia, the biological weapon of World War II

Turalemia causes joint and muscle pain, progressive weakness, and ends up being lethal in certain cases. The Russian Red Army used this disease during the Second Great War to delay the German soldiers and reduce their effectiveness in besieging the battle of stalingrad.

Next to anthrax, the botulism, the over, the smallpox o la viral hemorrhagic fever, the turalemia is one of the biological threats contemplated bys US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Therefore, counteracting any of these diseases is an important achievement for medicine.
By mapping the molecular circuitry of Francisella tularensis, Duke researchers have discovered how deactivate specifically a molecule that would contribute to the virulence of the microorganism. In this case, your method would focus on alter a group of genes known as the “island of pathogenicityFrancisella’s.

tularemia genes

Thanks to a series of structural, biochemical and cellular studies, researchers have identified how these genes have endowed F. tularensis with its lethal potential, and have unraveled the secret to “turning off” its pathogenicity. Specifically, what these scientists have achieved is introduce a genetic mutation in a protein pocket de la F. tularensis.

This mutation is even more important, if possible, taking into account that the tularemia can be treated with antibiotics, but the endurance to them is increasing, so the alternatives are starting to run out. Therefore, any study that can contribute to using methods parallel to antibiotics – avoiding and reducing their use – is very valuable.