A new discovery by Michigan State University scientists suggests that a common medication used to treat glaucoma could also be used to treat tuberculosis, even the drug-resistant kind.
Robert Abramovitch, an MSU microbiologist, along with graduate student Benjamin Johnson who helped lead the study, have discovered that ethoxzolamide, a sulfa-based compound found in many prescription glaucoma drugs, actually turns off the bacterium's ability to invade the immune system.
MSU's Robert Abramovitch developed a biosensor that glows green in response to conditions that mimic TB infection.
Credit: MSU photo
The research paper is in the current issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.
"Basically, ethoxzolamide stops TB from deploying its weapons...shutting down its ability to grow inside certain white blood cells in the immune system," Abramovitch said. "We found the compound reduces disease symptoms in mice."
According to Abramovitch, TB may not have eyes and ears, but it has the uncanny ability to sense certain environmental cues in the body and adapt. One of these cues includes the infection's ability to detect pH - or acidity levels - which tells the disease it's being attacked by a host immune cell.
"The compound we found inhibits TB's ability to detect acidic environments, effectively blindfolding the bacterium so it can't resist the immune system's assault," Abramovitch said.
It's estimated that 2 billion people, globally, carry the infection, but in most cases it lies dormant and the immune system is able to prevent it from spreading in the body.
"It's a standoff however," he said. "The immune system has difficulty clearing the infection and the TB bacterium is just waiting for the immune system to weaken."
Abramovitch and his research team screened 273,000 different compounds in hopes of finding one that could possibly stop the disease. By using a synthetic biosensor that glows green in response to conditions that mimic TB infection, something he developed earlier in his research, he eventually found the needle in the haystack that turned the bacterium's sensing ability off.
Yet, this elusive compound not only has the potential of preventing the disease from spreading, but Abramovitch suggests that it could help shorten the length of treatment and slow the emergence of drug resistance, particularly if found to work in conjunction with other existing TB drugs. Current treatments can last up to six months.
"The single biggest reason for the evolution of drug-resistant strains is the long course of treatment," Abramovitch said. "It's difficult for a patient to complete the entire antibiotic course required to kill all of the bacteria. Shortening the duration will help slow the development of these resistant strains."
Trying to kill TB bacteria isn't the only way of stopping the disease though, Abramovitch added.
"We don't necessarily have to find drugs that kill TB, we just need to find ones that interfere with the bug's ability to sense and resist the immune system. By giving the immune system a helping hand, natural defenses can then kill the bacteria."
His research has been funded through the National Institutes of Health, MSU startup funds, AgBioResearch and the Jean P. Schultz Biomedical Research Fund.
Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.
Sarina Gleason | EurekAlert!
Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg
New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences