Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Small-molecule inhibitors of botulinum neurotoxin identified

14.11.2003


Findings hold promise for developing new botulism therapies



Scientists have identified several key molecules that block the activity of a toxin that causes botulism--an important first step in developing therapeutics to counter the disease.

Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT) are useful as therapeutic agents for treating a wide variety of muscle dysfunctions in humans, and are used cosmetically to reduce wrinkles. Paradoxically, the seven serotypes of BoNT, designated A through G, also are among the most lethal biological substances known.


Botulinum neurotoxins are composed of two peptide chains, a heavy chain (HC) and a light chain (LC). The heavy chain targets and binds to surface receptors on nerve terminals. The toxins are then internalized into the nerve terminal. Once inside, the light chain separates from the heavy chain and cleaves, or cuts, specific proteins that control neuromuscular function. Cleavage of these proteins effectively blocks the release of neurotransmitters that cause the muscle contractions necessary for respiration. The result is a flaccid paralysis that ultimately leads to suffocation and death.

Because botulinum neurotoxins are capable of causing mass casualties, they are classified as biodefense A (top priority) agents by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, no therapeutics exist to counter the threat; thus, identifying and developing compounds that inhibit the neurotoxins is a high priority.

In an article published last month in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, and recently highlighted in Nature Reviews in Drug Discovery, investigators from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) report using a high-throughput assay to screen a group of 1,990 compounds known as the NCI diversity set. The molecular properties of this group are predictive of a larger set of more than 100,000 compounds.

Using a two-stage assay, the team identified a number of compounds that inhibited the enzymatic action of BoNT serotype A light chain (BoNT/A LC). All inhibitors were further verified by high-performance liquid chromatography. Finally, molecular modeling techniques were used to predict structural features that contribute to inhibitor binding and potency.

These techniques revealed a common pharmacophore--a "scaffold" upon which future therapeutics can be built. This pharmacophore will serve as a basis for directing future efforts to develop BoNT/A LC inhibitors with enhanced potency. Testing in cell culture will be followed by animal modeling once the most promising candidates have been identified.

Study collaborators were Sina Bavari, James J. Schmidt, and Robert G. Stafford of USAMRIID; Rick Gussio, Daniel W. Zaharevitz, Edward A. Sausville, Douglas J. Lane, Connor F. McGrath, Ann R. Hermone, Tam L. Nguyen, Rekha G. Panchal, and James C. Burnett of NCI; and Jonathan L. Vennerstrom of UNMC.

"This work is the result of a productive collaboration between federal and academic partners," said Colonel Erik A. Henchal, commander of USAMRIID. "These are the relationships that will, in the future, deliver the biodefense products the nation needs."


USAMRIID, located at Fort Detrick, Maryland, is the lead laboratory for the Medical Biological Defense Research Program, and plays a key role in national defense and in infectious disease research. The Institute’s mission is to conduct basic and applied research on biological threats resulting in medical solutions (such as vaccines, drugs and diagnostics) to protect the warfighter. USAMRIID is a subordinate laboratory of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

Caree Vander Linden | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.usamriid.army.mil/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht 'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers
16.02.2018 | National University of Science and Technology MISIS

nachricht New process allows tailor-made malaria research
16.02.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

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

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>