Penicillin can be used successfully as an anthrax treatment. Penicillin prevents production of important proteins in a dividing bacterial cell. Penicillin impedes the production of those proteins that make-up the cell wall. A bacterium can not exist without a cell wall. The cell wall holds intact all of the working parts of the bacterial cell.
It should be noted that penicillin does not harm any existing cell wall. The bacteria in the intestine are not killed by the use of penicillin. Use of an anthrax treatment does not impair the healthy functioning of the body.
Doctors have had success when using doxycycline as an anthrax treatment.
Doxycycline inhibits a process called translation. By interfering with the translation process, doxycycline blocks production of all bacterial proteins, not just those in the cell wall.
In order to understand how doxycycline works, one must learn something about normal protein production. Any cell, including a bacterial cell, assembles each protein chain on a particular type of RNA. Protein chains form on the t-RNA. But in order for such chain formation to commence, the t-RNA must attach to a structure called a ribosome.
Now the doxycycline molecule binds to the 16 S portion of the ribosome. When doxycycline is bound to the ribosome, no t-RNA can bind to that ribosome. When t-RNA can not bind to a ribosome, the cell can not assemble (can not make) a protein on that ribosome.
A single bacterium is not going to harm a human. The reproduction of many bacteria has the potential to harm a human. Yet bacteria can not reproduce if they can not make proteins. That is why doxycycline is an effective anthrax treatment.
Now it has been stated that there are three anthrax treatments. What is the name of the third anthrax treatment?
That third anti-anthrax drug is called ciprofloxacin (Cipro). It kills anthrax by preventing the action of an enzyme called DNA gyrase. Gyrase plays a key role in replication of the coded message on the DNA.
When a cell divides, it must make a second copy of the coded message on each strand of DNA. Each of the two DNA strands in the cell must serve as a template, an example of the DNA needed by the cell. The dividing cell needs to make an exact copy of both of the DNA strands in the cell.
During the division of a bacterial cell, the DNA, the template, must form a loop. The gyrase aids the creation of that loop. If a bacterial cell can not form that loop, then it can not make a copy of the DNA. Without a copy of the DNA, a new cell has no set of “instructions.” Without those “instructions,” a new bacterial cell can not form and grow.
So, each of the available anthrax treatments has the ability to kill bacteria. Yet each anthrax treatment interferes with a different aspect of the cell division process.