Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research could put penicillin back in battle against antibiotic resistant bugs that kill millions

12.03.2008
Research led by the University of Warwick has uncovered exactly how the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae has become resistant to the antibiotic penicillin. The same research could also open up MRSA to attack by penicillin and help create a library of designer antibiotics to use against a range of other dangerous bacteria.

Worldwide Streptococcus pneumoniae causes 5 million fatal pneumonia infections a year in children. In the US it causes 1 million cases a year of pneumococcal pneumonia in the elderly of which up to 7% are fatal. This new research has completely exposed how Streptococcus pneumoniae builds its penicillin immunity and opens up many ways to disrupt that mechanism and restore penicillin as a weapon against these bacteria.

The research was led by Dr Adrian Lloyd of the University of Warwick’s Department of Biological Sciences along with other colleagues from the University of Warwick, the Université Laval, Ste-Foy in Quebec, and The Rockefeller University in New York. The research was funded by Welcome Trust and the MRC.

Penicillin normally acts by preventing the construction of an essential component of the bacterial cell wall: the Peptidoglycan. This component provides a protective mesh around the otherwise fragile bacterial cell, providing the mechanical support and stability required for the integrity and viability of cells of Streptococcus pneumoniae and other bacteria including MRSA.

The researchers targeted a protein called MurM that is essential for clinically observed penicillin resistance and has also been linked to changes in the chemical make up of the peptidoglycan that appear in penicillin resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae isolated from patients with pneumococcal infections.

The researchers found that MurM acted as an enzyme that was key to the formation of particular structures within the S. pneumoniae peptidoglycan called dipeptide bridges that link together strands of the peptidoglycan mesh that contributes to the bacterial cell wall. The presence of high levels of these dipeptide bridges in the peptidoglycan of Streptococcus pneumoniae is a pre-requisite for high level penicillin resistance.

The Warwick team were able to replicate the activity of MurM in a test tube, allowing them to define the chemistry of the MurM reaction in detail and understand every key step of how Streptococcus pneumoniae deploys MurM to gain this resistance.

The results will allow the Warwick team, and any interested pharmaceutical researchers, to target the MurM reaction in Streptococcus pneumoniae in a way which will lead to the development of drugs which will disrupt the resistance of Streptococcus pneumoniae to penicillin.

The same research also offers exciting possibilities to disrupt the antibiotic resistance of MRSA which uses similarly constructed peptide bridges in the construction of the peptidoglycan component of its cell wall. Therefore, thanks to this research, even MRSA could now be opened up to treatment by penicillin.

A further spin-off from this new MurM research, is that the Warwick led researchers are also able to readily reproduce every precursor step the bacterial cell uses to create its peptidoglycan. The tools developed at Warwick open up each step of the creation of the peptidoglycan (MurA, MurB, MurC etc, etc) used by an array of dangerous bacteria. This provides a valuable collection of targets for pharmaceutical companies seeking ways of disrupting antibiotic resistance in such bacteria.

The University of Warwick part of the research team have now established a new network of academics from the fields of chemistry, biology and medicine, as well as pharmaceutical companies to share and exploit this new treasure trove of targets which could help create a range of new designer antibiotic based treatments targeted at a range of bacteria that can cause significant health problems.

This network is the UK Bacterial Cell Wall Biosynthesis Network or UK-BaCWAN and it is supported by the Medical Research Council of the UK. The network web site is http://www.warwick.ac.uk/go/bacwan

Peter Dunn | alfa
Further information:
http://www.warwick.ac.uk/go/bacwan

Further reports about: MRSA MurM Penicillin Streptococcus cause peptidoglycan pneumonia resistance resistant

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State 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: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>