Major Home Office research grant to support Anthrax research
12 January 2011
Prof Les Baillie of the Welsh School of Pharmacy has been awarded £267,003 by the Home Office to evaluate the ability of environmentally friendly biocides to remediate anthrax spore contaminated environments.
Anthrax, a bacterial disease cause by an organism called Bacillus anthracis, has been a scourge of man and animals since the first written history of disease. It was thought to be the cause of one of the plagues of Egypt in the time of Moses (c. 1250 BC) and accounts of its symptoms can be found in the writings of ancient scholars such as Homer (c. 1000 BC) and Galen (c. AD 200).
More recently the bacterium played a pivotal role in the scientific flowering of the 19th century underpinning advances in medicine and immunology which saw naturally acquired anthrax all but eliminated from the UK.
Unfortunately the disease still remains a major public health problem in countries such as Turkey due primarily to the ability of the bacterium to form resistant spores capable of surviving in soil for decades without losing the ability to infect susceptible individuals.
For this reason the Cardiff team in collaboration with colleagues from Industry, the UK Health Protection Agency and Kafkas University in Eastern Turkey will perform field trials to determine the ability of environmentally friendly biocides and delivery platforms to remediate spore contaminated sites in manner which minimizes collateral damage to local flora and fauna. It is our expectation that this work will result in development of a process which could be employed across Turkey and other endemic regions to reduce the threat posed by this organism.