A bacterial toxin promoting tissue healing has been discovered. The compound, found in Staphylococcus aureus, does not just damage cells, but also stimulates tissue regeneration.
Normally they are among the many harmless organisms found in and on the human body: one in four people have millions of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria on their skin and on the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract, without being aware of it. In some cases, however, the harmless bacteria can turn into pathogens, which can lead to skin inflammation and lung infections, or — in the worst cases — sepsis. “This happens especially when the bacteria multiply too fast, for example when a person’s immune system is weakened by an infection or injury,” says Prof. Oliver Werz of Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany.
The Professor for Pharmaceutical Chemistry and his team have studied the molecular defence mechanisms of the human immune system in
A team led by scientists in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has engineered powerful new antimicrobial molecules from toxic proteins found in wasp venom. The team hopes to develop the molecules into new bacteria-killing drugs, an important advancement considering increasing numbers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria which can cause illness such as sepsis and tuberculosis.
In the study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers altered a highly toxic small protein from a common Asian wasp species, Vespula lewisii, the Korean yellow-jacket wasp. The alterations enhanced the molecule’s ability to kill bacterial cells while greatly reducing its ability to harm human cells. In animal models, the scientists showed that this family of new antimicrobial molecules made with these alterations could protect mice from otherwise lethal bacterial infections.
There is an urgent need for new drug treatments for bacterial infections, as
Researchers have uncovered details of how a certain type of bacteria breaks down cellulose — a finding that could help reduce the cost and environmental impact of the use of biomass, including biofuel production. The bacteria’s cellulose degradation system is in some way different from how a fungus is already widely used in industry, including to soften up denim to make stone-washed jeans.
Efforts to find ways to break down cellulose, the tough stuff that makes up plant cell walls, faster and more productively has long been a goal of industrial researchers.
When plants are processed into biofuels or other biomass applications, cellulose has to be degraded into simpler sugar molecules first, and this step can represent up to a quarter of the operating and capital costs of biofuel production. If this process can be made faster and more productive, it won’t just save industry money, but such efficiencies could