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RU 1153

A Novel Diagnostic Tool For The Rapid Identification Of Bacillus anthracis

Anthrax is a disease caused by the notorious biological agent Bacillus anthracis that can be easily manufactured and transported in a dormant form called endospores. Anthrax endospores can survive in soil, fur, clothing or other inhospitable environments for several years and survive later in more favorable conditions. The current gold standard for identifying the possible presence of B. anthracis involves testing for gamma (γ) phage sensitivity.  This classical bacteriological method identifies the γ phage receptor on the B. anthracis cell wall resulting in phage infection causing clear zones or plaques. However, the γ phage diagnostic test is not entirely specific to B. anthracis and has a wider host range, frequently resulting in false positives. In addition, this test is time-consuming and requires five days to obtain the results.

Our investigators have identified that Wip1 phage exhibits a very narrow host range and is highly specific for B. anthracis.  The high specificity is a result of the initial recognition and binding of the receptor binding proteins on the phage coat with the receptors on the bacterium’s surface.  This high specificity results in a superior tool for the efficient identification of B. anthracis.  Additionally, our scientists show that Wip1 plaques can be detected within 12 hours of post-infection, in comparison to γ phage, making it a rapid assay. Our investigators have also identified and isolated the binding ligand from the Wip1 phage that may be labeled and used directly on the organism for a more rapid readout.


Diagnostics: These reagents are useful for the diagnostic identification of pathogenic Bacillus anthracis, either using the phage or the phage ligand protein.


Highly sensitive and rapid method to identify Bacillus anthracis

Stage of Development


Lead Inventor

Dr Vincent Fischetti

Patent Information and References

  • Patent pending
  • Kan et al.,J. Bacteriol.(2013), 195(19):4355-4364

For Further Information