Disarmed anthrax toxin tested as a way to combat Covid-19

Disarmed anthrax toxin is being tested as a way of fighting the Covid-19 virus.

Scientists at the University of Greenwich are collaborating with the Bundeswehr Institute for Microbiology to develop novel treatments for SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nobel prize-winning siRNA technology can arrest viral infection by targeting genes critical for viral reproduction. Scientists at the University of Greenwich have developed a proprietary anthrax toxin-based delivery system to optimize the effectiveness of siRNA drugs.

We're testing two ways to deliver anti-viral siRNA: direct delivery using disarmed anthrax toxin, and indirect delivery using exosomes - a naturally occurring drug delivery system.

Anthrax toxin provides access to the cytosol, a typically inaccessible compartment within the cell. The cytosol is also where the siRNA (drug) can target the virus. To make the toxin safe whilst retaining its efficiency, we have removed its "warhead" and replaced it with siRNA."

Dr. Simon Richardson, Director of the Exogenix laboratory at the University of Greenwich

Benedita Feron, laboratory manager and co-inventor of this technology says: "We have further developed this system as a non-destructive method for loading exosomes with biological materials such as siRNA.This has previously shown great potential as an anti-viral treatment to stop Zika virus infection and is now being developed against Covid-19."

The Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology, where the first four SARS-CoV-2 strains in Europe were isolated, is collaborating with the University to determine these system's effectiveness to stop Covid-19.

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