The researchers found that nitric oxide (NO) is a critical part of Bacillus anthracis's defense against the immune response launched by cells infected with the bacterium. Anthrax bacteria that cannot produce NO succumb to the immune system's attack.
Stephen Lippard, the Arthur Amos Noyes Professor of Chemistry at MIT and an author of a paper on the work, said antibiotics developed to capitalize on this vulnerability could be effective against other bacteria that employ the same defense system. Those bacteria include Staphylococcus aureus, which commonly causes infections in hospitals and can be extremely drug-resistant.
The paper appears in the Jan. 21 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Anthrax occurs naturally around the world and can infect all warm-blooded animals including humans. Treatment usually includes large doses of intravenous and oral antibiotics, but the disease can often be fatal-especially if treatment is not started right away.
In the human immune system, specialized cells called macrophages are the first line of defense against anthrax infection. Macrophages engulf the bacteria and bombard them with reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, which create chemical reactions toxic to the bacteria.
The research team found that NO produced by the bacteria preemptively defends against attack by reactive oxygen species produced by the macrophages soon after infection. Twelve hours later, when the macrophages release NO to join in the attack, it is too late-by then the bacteria have taken over and eventually destroy the macrophages.
When the gene for the enzyme that synthesizes NO is knocked out in the bacteria, they cannot defend against early attack by the macrophages, which can then survive the infection.
"With the aid of an intracellular probe developed in our laboratory, which fluoresces in the presence of NO, our collaborators Evgeny Nudler and his group discovered a completely new target for the next generation of antibiotics," said Lippard.
With this knowledge in hand, the researchers are now using the fluorescent probe to screen libraries of chemicals for compounds that could potentially interfere with the bacterium's ability to synthesize NO, said Lippard. Such compounds could eventually be developed into new antibiotics.
Lead author of the paper is Konstantin Shatalin of the New York University School of Medicine. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.
Elizabeth A. Thomson | MIT News Office
First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife
Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
26.10.2016 | Materials Sciences
26.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
26.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy