Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New weapon against highly resistant microbes within grasp

28.05.2010
Researchers shed light on the mode of action; promising approach for new antibiotics

An active compound from fungi and lower animals may well be suitable as an effective weapon against dangerous bacteria. We're talking about plectasin, a small protein molecule that can even destroy highly resistant bacteria.

Researchers at the Universities of Bonn, Utrecht, Aalborg and of the Danish company Novozymes AS have shed light on how the substance does this. The authors see plectasin as a promising lead compound for new antibiotics.

These results will be published in Science journal on 28th May.

More and more bacteria are becoming resistant to normal antibiotics. This is especially true for the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Most of the pharmaceutical weapons are now useless against these MRSA strains . According to estimates, as many as every second patient in the USA treated by intensive-care medicine comes down with an MRSA infection.

Plectasin could shift the balance of power back in the doctors' favour. But how exactly does the little protein molecule do that? The Bonn researchers in Dr. Tanja Schneider and Professor Hans-Georg Sahl's team have answered these questions together with Danish and Dutch colleagues. Thus plectasin disrupts the forming of the cell wall in bacteria so that the pathogens can no longer divide.

Theft at the bacteria's construction site

In this process, plectasin behaves like a thief which steals the stones off a mason. 'It binds to a cell-wall building block called lipid II and thus prevents it from being incorporated ,' Professor Sahl explains. 'However, bacteria cannot live without a cell wall.' It comes as no surprise that the most famous antibiotic penicillin also inhibits cell-wall synthesis.

Yet plectasin is more similar in its mode of action to another widely used drug, vancomycin. Vancomycin had been the drug of choice in combating MRSA strains since the 1980s. Meanwhile, though, there are more and more bacteria that are also resistant to vancomycin. 'However, these strains are still susceptible to plectasin,' Dr. Tanja Schneider emphasises. Nevertheless, there is no permanent solution to the resistance problem even with a new antibiotic . 'It is always just a question of time until the pathogens mutate and become insensitive ,' she says. 'It's a never ending arms race.'

Plectasin belongs to the class of defensins. These defence molecules are widespread among fungi, animals and also plants. Humans, for example, produce defensins on their skin and in this way nip infections in the bud. 'Defensins not only kill pathogens but also alert the immune system', Dr. Hans-Henrik Kristensen from the Danish company Novozymes AS explains. 'So the pharmaceutical industry is setting its hopes on them.'

Contact:
Professor Hans-Georg Sahl
Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology, University of Bonn
Telephone: +49 (0)228 73-7941
Email: hgsahl@uni-bonn.de
Dr. Tanja Schneider
Telephone: +49 (0)228 73-5688 or -5266
Email: tanja@microbiology-bonn.de
Rene Tronborg
Communications Consultant
Novozymes AS
Telephone: +45 4446 2274
E-Mail: retr@novozymes.com

Dr. Hans-Georg Sahl | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uni-bonn.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>