CDC research scientists have developed a method to identify and quantify the activity of pathogenic bacterial adenylate cyclase toxins by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Bacterial protein toxins are among the most potent natural poisons known, causing paralysis, immune system collapse, hemorrhaging and death in some cases. A useful tool for quantitative detection of specific toxin activity in clinical samples will provide insights into the kinetics of intoxication, stage of infection and present stage of pathogenesis.
This rapid, high-throughput analysis method will provide measurements that quantify the efficacy of toxin-based therapeutics and support patient management decisions during treatment. This technology is specific, ultrasensitive and can be implemented to detect toxins from a wide range of pathogenic bacteria. This method could be fabricated into a kit format to deliver to state or research laboratories for use during an anthrax emergency or for research purposes, i.e. animal studies evaluating anthrax therapeutics. This technology may be easily applied to detection/diagnosis of additional pathogenic bacterial species infections as well.