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 Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton 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: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>