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6 March 2017, 08:33
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New Drug Lead From Soil Bacteria Compound Identified To Fight Against Tuberculosis

New Drug Lead From Soil Bacteria Compound Identified To Fight Against Tuberculosis - picture 1

The study's findings lead the way to a treatment for tuberculosis (TB). Deemed by many to be a relic of past ages, TB still causes more deaths than any other infectious disease among HIV-positive people.

A collaboration of researchers, including the University of Warwick and institutions from Australia, Canada and the USA studied soil bacteria compounds, which are known to inhibit other bacteria growth around them efficiently. The researchers were able to recreate these chemicals with structural variations, transforming them into more active synthetic analogues.

When experimented in a containment laboratory, these analogues confirmed to be ruthless killers of Mycobacterium tuberculosis - the bacterium which causes TB. These substances target a "MraY" protein in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which catalyses a critical step in forming the cell wall around a bacterium. Rushing this part - a potential 'Achilles' heel' of the TB bacterium - gave a quintessential pathway for the antibacterial compounds to combat and eradicate TB strains.

In 2015 there were about 10.4 million new cases of tuberculosis and 1.4 million deaths from it. Mycobacterium tuberculosis is becoming increasingly resistant to modern treatments, meaning there is an urgent need to develop novel and effective TB drugs.

"The University of Warwick is a central hub in the UK for antimicrobial resistance research, and we have significant expertise in the bacterial cell wall as a target for new antibiotics. This study highlights the international nature of our research and how such collaboration can bring innovation in drug discovery and biomedicine," Dr David Roper comments.