Researchers discover promising target for TB drugs

Johns Hopkins University researchers recently determined the three-dimensional shape of a protein responsible for creating unique bonds within tuberculosis-causing bacteria that make them resistant to certain drug therapies.

By finding the structure of the protein, the researchers could allow drug designers to more effectively create treatments to kill the deadly bacteria. New drug therapies might ease the burden caused by rising levels of drug-resistant bacteria throughout the world, reports.

"We've known for a while that this protein would make a good drug target, but without a structural model, drug discovery is like blindly choosing random objects to fit into a small hole of unknown shape and size," L. Mario Amzel, a professor at JHU's School of Medicine, said, according to "The results of our study have removed the blindfold."

The research team used X-ray crystallography to scatter radiation off a specially designed portion of an enzyme that creates molecular bonds within the Mycobacterium tuberculosis' cell wall. The scientists used the data gathered to build a 3-D model of the enzyme's atomic structure.

The scientists said that learning more about the enzyme could help with other bacterial diseases as well.

"Beyond fighting TB, the structure of this enzyme may help us fight other disease-causing bacteria that have similar enzymes, such as Enterococcus faecium and the spore-forming, drug-resistant Clostridium difficile," Amzel said, according to