More molecules for tuberculosis

Mar 11, 2011

Scientists are collaborating on a new international research project to identify antibiotics that can kill tuberculosis and fight resistant strains.

"We want to accelerate the discovery of new compounds that can be turned into effective drugs," said Professor Tony Maxwell from the John Innes Centre, a key player in "More Medicines for Tuberculosis", a new European research project.

Two billion people are currently infected with TB and three million die every year. TB causes more deaths than any other infectious disease. Rates are increasing, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where people with HIV are particularly vulnerable. It is also associated with intravenous drug use and increased rates may be linked to immigration.

"The is difficult to get at," said Professor Maxwell. "It is slow growing, spends a lot of time hidden in cells before it makes itself known, and has very tough cell walls of its own."

Treatment is relatively long term, requiring a drug regime over four to six months. Non-compliance is a problem, exacerbating the challenge caused by .

"Drug discovery research for tuberculosis is dependent on academic labs and no single lab can do it", said Professor Maxwell.

Scientists from 25 labs across Europe will collaborate on the new project including some groups in the US and India.

The John Innes Centre scientists will focus on compounds that target DNA gyrase, a target that they have already established as effective and safe. They will receive compounds from European collaborators including . They will screen those that knock out DNA gyrase. Their research will continue on those compounds that are effective both against the target (DNA gyrase) and the bacterium.

Working on new compounds to hit known targets, rather than compounds that may struggle to access or that may have unknown effects in humans, will provide a quicker route to clinical trials.

"Finding new that work is only the first step," warns Professor Maxwell.

The next stage will be to determine how exactly the antibiotic compound operates and whether it has a hope of working in a clinical environment.

One group of compounds under study at JIC are naphthoquinones, originally extracted from plants including the toothbrush tree, Euclea natalensis.

Explore further: UN implores all countries to help on Ebola

Provided by Norwich BioScience Institutes

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Energy-saving bacteria resist antibiotics

Sep 03, 2008

Bacteria save energy by producing proteins that moonlight, having different roles at different times, which may also protect the microbes from being killed. The moonlighting activity of one enzyme from the tuberculosis bacterium ...

Cancer drug target is promising lead for new TB treatments

Nov 17, 2010

A key enzyme in Mycobacterium tuberculosis that enables the microbe to reproduce rapidly could be a golden target for new drugs against tuberculosis (TB), according to a study published in Microbiology on 17 November. ...

Engineered bacterium churns out two new key antibiotics

Feb 18, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- In recent years, scientists have isolated two potent natural antibiotics — platensimycin and platencin — that are highly effective against bacterial infection, including those caused by the most dreaded ...

New chemical can kill latent tuberculosis bacteria

Mar 14, 2008

Success in the laboratory suggests that a new compound can point the way to preventing active tuberculosis in people infected with the latent form of the bacterium, says a team led by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical ...

Recommended for you

UN implores all countries to help on Ebola

13 minutes ago

The international group Doctor Without Borders warned Tuesday that the world is 'losing the battle' against Ebola, while U.N. officials implored all countries to quickly step up their response by contributing health experts ...

Travel restrictions could worsen Ebola crisis: experts

4 hours ago

Travel restrictions could worsen West Africa's Ebola epidemic, limiting medical and food supplies and keeping out much-needed doctors, virologists said Tuesday as the disease continued its deadly spread.

World 'losing battle' to contain Ebola: MSF (Update)

5 hours ago

International medical agency Medecins sans Frontieres said Tuesday the world was "losing the battle" to contain Ebola as the United Nations warned of severe food shortages in the hardest-hit countries.

Mutating Ebola viruses not as scary as evolving ones

5 hours ago

My social media accounts today are cluttered with stories about "mutating" Ebola viruses. The usually excellent ScienceAlert, for example, rather breathlessly informs us "The Ebola virus is mutating faster in humans than in animal hosts ...

War between bacteria and phages benefits humans

6 hours ago

In the battle between our immune systems and cholera bacteria, humans may have an unknown ally in bacteria-killing viruses known as phages. In a new study, researchers from Tufts University, Massachusetts ...

User comments : 0