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: Ebola virus has mutated less than scientists feared, study finds

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Research Helps Uncover the Secrets of an Age-Old Killer

Dec 07, 2006

Scientists working in part at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL) have discovered a gene for a protein that regulates the cellular response to copper in the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. ...

Recommended for you

UK nurse cured of Ebola after receiving new treatment

2 hours ago

A British army reservist who contracted Ebola while working as a volunteer nurse in Sierra Leone has fully recovered after becoming the first patient in the world to receive an experimental new treatment.

COPD takes big toll on employment, mobility in US

2 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The respiratory illness known as COPD takes a toll on mobility and employment, with a new report finding that nearly one-quarter of Americans with the condition are unable to work.

Genetic test for inherited kidney diseases developed

5 hours ago

Many kidney disorders are difficult to diagnose. To address this problem, scientists and clinicians have developed a diagnostic test that identifies genetic changes linked to inherited kidney disorders. This ...

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.