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 Stiffness matters
22.02.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Separate brain systems cooperate during learning, study finds
22.02.2018 | Brown 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: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>