Researchers have made detailed, atomic-level images of a peroxiredoxin, which has revealed a peculiar characteristic of this protein that might form the foundation for an entirely new class of antibiotics.
Peroxiredoxin is needed by all cells to help eliminate hydrogen peroxide, a toxin, and in normal cells this process is healthy and valuable. But peroxiredoxins inside bacteria also help provide protection from our immune cells and increase the virulence of bacterial cells that cause infections.
The researchers were able to visualize peroxiredoxin chemistry in action. They found that when it's restrained and loses its mobility, it also loses its function. And if the normal function is lost, it can lead to cell death.
If a molecule can be found that selectively blocks the motions of peroxiredoxin only in bacterial cells -- which the researchers believe may be possible -- it could function as an entirely new way to kill those cells. This would leave normal cells undamaged and set the stage for new types of antibiotics.
With the increasing problem of antibiotic resistance to many existing drugs, this approach could have significant value, researchers said. It might also work in synergy with existing antibiotics to improve their efficacy.
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Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle