Test of bacteria toxin delivery system could pave way for new antibiotic drugs

Jun 16, 2008
Test of bacteria toxin delivery system could pave way for new antibiotic drugs
Scanning electron microscopy image of bacteria (the cylindrical objects) attached to host cells. These bacteria are in the process of injecting the host cells with the toxins. Credit: Hebrew University illustration

Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have achieved a breakthrough in monitoring the toxin-delivery system of highly pathogenic bacteria – an accomplishment that could help pave the way for new drugs that will be capable of neutralizing those germs.

Most bacteria are harmless and do not cause infections. Some, however, are pathogenic and are equipped with special accessories that are used to deliver toxins (also termed "effectors") into the cells of the infected person.

Numerous bacteria that cause disease, ranging from food poisoning to life threatening infection, employ a syringe-like nano-organelle (a specialized part of a cell having a specific function) that is used to inject toxic effectors into attacked host cells. This process is termed a type III secretion system (TTSS). Among these pathogens are Salmonella; the cause of typhoid fever, Yersinia; and enteropathogenic (intestinal) E. coli, which is responsible for the death of up to one million infants per year, mostly in developing countries.

The bacterial syringe employed by these bacteria is an excellent potential target for drugs (not yet available) to combat these diseases. In order to develop such drugs, however, a better understanding of the syringe functions is needed, requiring development of better methods for measuring the syringe activity.

The Hebrew University researchers – Ilan Rosenshine, the Etta Rosensohn Professor of Bacteriology at the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine, and his associates -- Erez Mills, Kobi Baruch, Xavier Charpentier and Simi Kobi -- have designed a new, real-time test that allows monitoring the syringe activity. Using this test, they have discovered new properties of this system, which might be used to develop drugs that will inhibit the syringe activity and thereby prevent disease and infection by these dangerous pathogens

Their achievement was described in a recent article in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

Source: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Explore further: Diabetes drug found in freshwater is a potential cause of intersex fish

Related Stories

Ears, grips and fists take on mobile phone user ID

10 hours ago

A research project has been under way to explore a biometric authentication system dubbed Bodyprint, with interesting test results. Bodyprint has been designed to detect users' biometric features using the ...

More than 2,200 confirmed dead in Nepal earthquake

10 hours ago

A powerful aftershock shook Nepal on Sunday, making buildings sway and sending panicked Kathmandu residents running into the streets a day after a massive earthquake left more than 2,200 people dead.

Nepal quake: Nearly 1,400 dead, Everest shaken (Update)

21 hours ago

Tens of thousands of people were spending the night in the open under a chilly and thunderous sky after a powerful earthquake devastated Nepal on Saturday, killing nearly 1,400, collapsing modern houses and ...

Recommended for you

York's anti-malarial plant given Chinese approval

Apr 24, 2015

A new hybrid plant used in anti-malarial drug production, developed by scientists at the University of York's Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP), is now registered as a new variety in China.

The appeal of being anti-GMO

Apr 24, 2015

A team of Belgian philosophers and plant biotechnologists have turned to cognitive science to explain why opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has become so widespread, despite positive contributions ...

Micro fingers for arranging single cells

Apr 24, 2015

Functional analysis of a cell, which is the fundamental unit of life, is important for gaining new insights into medical and pharmaceutical fields. For efficiently studying cell functions, it is essential ...

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.