The insight has huge implications for an understanding of these diseases and for more effective medicines to combat TB, leprosy and even cervical cancer. Cell magazine will be publishing the findings of Prof Dr Peter Peters and his colleagues on 28th June.
High-resolution electron microscopes and tomography have enabled Peters, Van der Wel and their colleagues to map the cell's internal organisation. Knowledge of differing cell organelles that also play a role in the development of cancer is important when trying to understand fundamental cell processes. During research into the fagosome, a pustule in the cell, they stumbled upon the unexpected discovery that has turned research into TB and leprosy on its head.Alternative path
Once inside the body BCG is stored in the fagosome but within two days the contagious TB bacterium bursts through the membrane wall of the fagosome. The bacterium falls freely into a cell landing in a food-rich environment where it rapidly multiplies. Peters and Van der Wel demonstrated how the leprosy bacterium burst forth in a similar way. Mycobacterium leprae is a sister of the TB bacterium.
Till now scientists thought that the fagosome acted as a reservoir whence not only the BCG vaccine but also the contagious bacterium slowly multiplied. Now, however, not only does it appear that the bacterium follows an entirely different path but also multiplies quicker when lying free inside the cell.Cutting bacterium
The Dutch Leprosy Foundation, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a subsidiary of the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation have financed this research.
Frederique Melman | alfa
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