Wednesday 21 January 2015

Iron enhanced protein fights pathogens

Meningitis-causing bacteria exerted strong evolutionary pressure on an iron-binding protein in primates, a study shows.

Damaging toxins and antibody-epitope interactions are frequently the battlegrounds of host-pathogen arms races, but a new study suggests a role for a different, so-called “nutritional” immune system. In primates, the iron-carrying protein transferrin likely evolved to inhibit meningitis-causing bacteria from scavenging iron, an essential but limited nutrient, researchers reported in Science.

In light of rising antibiotic resistance, medics have been toying with providing patients with more transferrin to help to fight in infections.

Posted by Tim Sandle

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