SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Possible new approach to fight TB discovered

A French-British team, which included scientists from CNRS, Inserm, the Institut Curie and Université Toulouse III -- Paul Sabatier, announced on October 1 that they discovered an amino acid which might be the key to fighting tuberculosis.

The amino acid, known as aspartate, is vital to the development of TB because it acts as the bacteria's main source of nitrogen. The team's results, which were published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, provide new insights into the bacteria and ways to combat it.

The researchers also found the way TB extracts aspartate from its host. Knowing how this is done, the research team believes it is possible to make vaccines that are capable of depriving TB from supplying itself with aspartate from its host.

The study specifically looked at an amino acid transporter known as AnsP1, which is the protein that is responsible for capturing aspartate and introducing it to the bacteria. They looked at a mutated strain of the bacteria to see if this amino acid transporter is key to TB, and found that it was; the strain of TB without AnsP1 to capture nitrogen was weaker, multiplied slower and caused less damage than normal strains.

This mutated strain, which contains the deactivated AnsP1, could be a good candidate for the development of novel vaccines.