Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Houseplant pest gives clue to potential new anthrax treatment

25.02.2009
Researchers at the University of Warwick have found how a citric acid-based Achilles heel used by a pathogen that attacks the popular African Violet house plant could be exploited not just to save African Violets but also to provide a potentially effective treatment for Anthrax.

The researchers examined how a chemical structure is assembled in a bacterial pathogen called Pectobacterium chrysanthemi (Dickya dadantii) that afflicts plants – particularly the African Violet which often appears in many homes as a decorative houseplant.

Like many bacteria Pectobacterium chrysanthemi competes with its host for iron. Without a supply of this essential nutrient the bacterium cannot grow. The University of Warwick researchers Dr Nadia Kadi, Dr Daniel Oves-Costales, Dr Lijiang Song and Professor Gregory Challis worked with colleagues at St Andrews University to examine how a "siderophore", one of the key tools the bacterium uses to harvest iron is assembled. They discovered how an enzyme catalyst in the assembly of this particular siderophore – called achromobactin – binds citric acid, a vital iron-binding component of the structure. Their findings show that this chemical pathway could be blocked or inhibited to prevent the bacterium from harvesting iron, essentially starving it.

While an interesting piece of science in itself and of even more interest to owners of African Violet houseplants the Warwick research team found that this work also has major implications for the treatment of several virulent and even deadly mammalian infections including Anthrax.

A second piece of research conducted by three of the University of Warwick researchers (Dr Daniel Oves-Costales, Dr Lijiang Song and Professor Gregory L. Challis ) found that the deadly pathogen which causes Anthrax in humans uses an enzyme to incorporate citric acid into another siderophore that is very similar to the one used by the African Violet pathogen. The researchers showed that both enzymes recognise citric acid in the same way. This means a common strategy could be used to block both the Anthrax and African Violet pathogen siderophore synthesis pathways.

Professor Greg Challis University of Warwick said:

"Inhibiting this citric acid-based process could be even more effective in combating an anthrax infection than it would be in combating the African violet pathogen, because the African Violet pathogen has a second siderophore that can harvest iron from the host and could attempt to struggle on with just this, whereas the anthrax pathogen appears not to have such a back up mechanism."

This new discovery could lead to the design of drugs that might eliminate the anthrax pathogen's ability to harvest iron and stop an infection dead in its tracks. A respiratory anthrax infection is nearly always fatal but this discovery opens new possibilities for combating such infections.

The benefits of the discovery may even go beyond treatments for Anthrax. The researchers are now looking at similar enzymes involved in the assembly of citric acid-derived siderophores in E. coli and MRSA, which may offer further targets for drug development.

Professor Greg Challis | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.warwick.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bacteria as pacemaker for the intestine
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Researchers identify how bacterium survives in oxygen-poor environments
22.11.2017 | Columbia University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>