Scientists find potential weapon against tuberculosis infection

Dec 13, 2006

The discovery of a unique copper-repressing protein in the bacterium that causes tuberculosis in humans may pave the way toward new strategies for halting tuberculosis infection.

Scientists have known that when macrophages - the host's immune cells - swallow an invading bacterium, they dump excessive amounts of copper onto the invader in an effort to kill it. While all cells need copper to function, too much of the metal ion causes cell death.

"But the invaders fight back with their own defense," says Adel Talaat, a microbiologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. "They block the excess copper."

In a paper published in the January 2007 issue of Nature Chemical Biology, Talaat and colleagues from Texas A&M University and University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada describe a unique protein repressor that they have identified as the mechanism used by invading bacterium cells to fight off the host's copper attack.

Prior to the discovery of this repressor protein, scientists did not know exactly how invading bacterium protected themselves from copper ions used by the body as a defense against infection.

"With this discovery, we can now pursue ways to deactivate the repressor protein," says Talaat. "Our goal is to disable the tuberculosis bacterium from fighting back against the host body's defense mechanisms, so that we can stop tuberculosis."

Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Explore further: Bacteria blamed in indigenous Mexican baby deaths

Related Stories

Architects to hatch Ecocapsule as low-energy house

1 hour ago

Where people call home depends on varied factors, from poverty level to personal philosophy to vanity to community pressure. Ecocapsule appears to be the result of special factors, a team of architects applying ...

California farmers agree to drastically cut water use

4 hours ago

California farmers who hold some of the state's strongest water rights avoided the threat of deep mandatory cuts when the state accepted their proposal to voluntarily reduce consumption by 25 percent amid ...

Apple may deliver ways to rev up the iPad, report says

5 hours ago

MacRumors last month said that the latest numbers from market research firm IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker revealed Apple stayed on as the largest vendor in a declining tablet market. The iPad ...

Recommended for you

Bacteria blamed in indigenous Mexican baby deaths

5 hours ago

Bacteria—and not a contaminated vaccine as initially suspected—were to blame for the recent deaths of two Mexican babies and for sickening 29 others, according to an official investigation.

Explainer: What is Chagas disease?

May 22, 2015

According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), in a Los Angeles clinic treating patients with heart failure, about 20% of Latin American patients have Chagas disease. What is that?, y ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.