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News

Tuberculosis treatment from fat buster drugs

Society For General Microbiology : 12 June, 2006  (New Product)
Tuberculosis is returning to haunt the UK and Europe as the bacterium that causes it becomes resistant to more and more of the drugs doctors use to treat it. Now researchers have found a potential new target for treatments in fatty molecules attached to the microbe's cell walls, the Society for General Microbiology heard today at its 157th Meeting at Keele University, UK.
Tuberculosis is returning to haunt the UK and Europe as the bacterium that causes it becomes resistant to more and more of the drugs doctors use to treat it. Now researchers have found a potential new target for treatments in fatty molecules attached to the microbe's cell walls, the Society for General Microbiology heard today at its 157th Meeting at Keele University, UK.

'No new drugs have been introduced for the treatment of tuberculosis during the past 40 years. However an increasing number of resistant or even multi-drug resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes the tuberculosis disease, are being found,' says Dr Peter Sander from the University of Zurich in Switzerland.

Dr Sander has been studying the group of fatty proteins on the surface of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, called lipoproteins, which help it attack our bodies. His research has identified an important compound, called LspA, used by the bacteria to make the lipoproteins. Mutant bacteria that cannot make LspA, also cannot make fully-developed lipoproteins and they become powerless to multiply in our body and cause harm.

'This makes LspA a suitable target for drug design,' explains Dr Sander. 'But even with a target, it is very difficult to develop new drugs. We have to screen many thousands of compounds to find an inhibitor.'

Luckily, an inhibitor of LspA already exists and Dr Sander believes that it could soon be used to create a new generation of tuberculosis drugs.
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