Narrator: This is Science Today. Anthrax toxins that cause disease and death in mammals have been found to have similar toxic effects in fruit flies. Biologist Ethan Bier of the University of California , San Diego says his labs findings will give researchers insight into how these toxins function at a molecular level, which may lead to new therapies to neutralize the effects of anthrax in humans.
Bier: The bacterium produces two toxins, one called lethal factor and one called edema factor, that contribute to the virulence of the bacterium.
Narrator: Fruit flies lack components required for toxin entry into the cells, so they can't actually contract anthrax, but the researchers discovered that fruit flies can be used to test the effects of lethal factor or edema factor toxins on the signaling pathways shared by flies and humans.
Bier: So we can put these toxins into flies and just say “what do they do?” And then go back to people who are studying these toxins and providing them with a hypothesis as to what it might be doing and they can try to test that out.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.