Study suggests modified cholesterol can inhibit growth of drug-resistant tuberculosis

Cholesterol is known to impact the virulence and infectivity of TB. | File photo
Researchers from the University of Queensland and University of California San Francisco have found that modified cholesterol can inhibit the growth of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, a disease that claims a life every 21 seconds.

Led by Professor Paul Ortiz de Montellano in the U.S. and including University of Queensland postdoctoral research fellow Siew Hoon Wong, the team investigated how compounds related to cholesterol can impact Mb. tuberculosis, which causes TB.

Cholesterol is known to impact the virulence and infectivity of TB, but the team’s findings that it can, when modified, inhibit the bacterium’s growth could provide crucial guidance in combating the disease as drug-resistant strains of bacteria continue to emerge.

"What Paul's team and our team have shown is that if you give this bacterium modified cholesterol instead, then it can't use it as its energy source and so it stops growing,” University of Queensland professor James De Voss said. “Interestingly, we don't quite understand why this happens. Our discovery suggests a new way in which we can robustly inhibit growth of the TB bacterium."

The National Institutes of Health provided funding for the team’s research, which was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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University of Queensland St Lucia Brisbane, QLD

National Institutes of Health 9000 Rockville Pike Bethesda, MD - 20892

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