Researchers from the Argonne National Laboratory recently uncovered the structure of an enzyme in tuberculosis (TB), which may help scientists to develop new targets for new drugs.
This discovery is especially important as drug-resistant TB continues to rise.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria cause TB infections. These infections are difficult to treat even with strong antibiotics; today an estimated one-third of the world’s population has TB infections. Health professionals are concerned that the treatments that are used today will not work at all within just a few years.
Treatments require up to nine months to take effect because TB can hide from the antibiotics. The infection can live inside human cells until the immune system is distracted, and then the infection can multiply and spread throughout the body. TB is skilled in developing resistance to treatments.
"What we discovered earlier this year is that the human and bacterial versions bind molecules differently," Andrzej Joachimiak, an Argonne Distinguished Fellow, head of the Structural Biology Center, co-principal investigator at the Center for Structural Genomics of Infectious Diseases and a corresponding author on the new study, said. "This is very important for finding a molecule to build a drug around--you don't want to inhibit a human enzyme, just the pathogen one."
Argonne National Laboratory is a multidisciplinary science and engineering research center located at 9700 S. Cass Ave., Lemont.