Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers discover how infectious bacteria can switch species

09.10.2008
Scientists from the Universities of Bath and Exeter have developed a rapid new way of checking for toxic genes in disease-causing bacteria which infect insects and humans. Their findings could in the future lead to new vaccines and anti-bacterial drugs.

They studied a bacterium called Photorhabdus asymbiotica, which normally infects and kills insects, but which can also cause an unpleasant infection in humans.

By testing groups of genes from the bacteria against three types of invertebrates (insects, worms and amoebae) and mammalian cells, the scientists were able to identify toxins and other molecules, called virulence factors, made by the bacteria that allow it to infect each type of organism.

By pinning down the genes responsible for each of these possible virulence factors and comparing them with the genes of well known bacteria, the scientists have been able to map out which regions of the bacteria’s DNA control its ability to infect and damage invertebrates, and also potentially humans.

The researchers from Bath and Exeter are publishing their findings in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Dr Nick Waterfield from the University of Bath’s Department of Biology & Biochemistry said: “Many bacteria have evolved to infect one particular type of plant or animal and most of the toxins they use to do this also have an effect in other hosts.

“Some of the toxins they use for infecting can also allow the bacteria to jump across into another species like humans, perhaps with fatal consequences.”

Dr Maria Sanchez-Contreras, who works with Dr Waterfield at the University of Bath said: “We have developed a new way of discovering a greater number of previously unknown toxins and measuring how dangerous or virulent these bacteria are. Identifying the genes responsible for the production and secretion of these bacterial toxins will allow us find ways to prevent disease.

“Our new technique, called Rapid Virulence Annotation (RVA), allows us to make faster assessments of the disease-causing agents in multiple types of organism; it lets us pinpoint sequences of genes which may pose a risk to humans; and it gives us a powerful tool to identify virulence genes in other known bacteria.

“Finally, it helps us identify new targets for drugs to fight these diseases and control pests, and for developing preventive vaccines.”

Richard ffrench-Constant, Professor of insect microbiology from the University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus adds: “RVA allows us to look for virulence factors that are totally novel and does not rely upon traditional searches based on factors already known from other bacteria. We have already discovered that some totally unexpected genes are indeed involved in bacterial virulence. This technique should prove to be a gold mine for potential vaccine candidates.”

The scientists are already using this relatively cheap and highly accurate RVA technique in other disease-causing bacteria to identify the genes which allow some diseases to jump the species barrier.

Press Team | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bath.ac.uk/
http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/2008/10/9/rva-waterfield-sanchez.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins
27.06.2017 | Salk Institute

nachricht X-ray experiments reveal two different types of water
27.06.2017 | Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Collapse of the European ice sheet caused chaos

27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences

NASA sees quick development of Hurricane Dora

27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences

New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins

27.06.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>