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Fighting Anthrax
Although mammals are naturally equipped with a macrophage-produced enzyme (sPLA2-IIA) capable of fighting the agent of anthrax, air borne infection by Bacillus anthracis remains fatal if not rapidly treated. A group of French scientists 1 have recently discovered why 2. They showed that one of the toxins secreted by the bacterium inhibits the synthesis of the enzyme by lung macrophages, thereby reducing their capacity to kill the bacilli and the germinated spores of B. anthracis. This should help develop new therapeutic strategies against anthrax.

1. CNRS / Inserm / Institut Pasteur / Université Paris-VI.
2. B. Raymond et al., PLoS Pathog, 2007. 3: e187.
> Contact: Lhousseine Touqui, touqui@pasteur.fr


Cheaper Hydrogen Production
Using hydrogen as an energy vector may provide solutions to the specific energy challenges of the 21st century. Researchers from the LCBM 1 in Grenoble have developed a new method to produce hydrogen, based on cobalt as a cofactor instead of the scarce and costly platinum usually used 2. In this supramolecular system, cobalt is the catalyst and ruthenium is the photosensitizer. In the presence of light, electrons from the organic molecule are used to liberate hydrogen from water. While the ultimate goal is still to use water as a proton and electron source (to avoid adding an organic molecule), this outcome represents considerable progress towards the photoproduction of hydrogen.

1. Laboratoire de chimie et biologie des métaux (CNRS / CEA / Université Joseph Fourier).
2. A. Fihri et al., Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2008. 47: 564-7.
> Contact: Vincent Artero, vincent.artero@cea.fr


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