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Achilles' heel of pathogenic bacteria discovered
Date:12/17/2012

This press release is available in German.

Multidrug-resistant bacteria remain a major concern for hospitals and nursing homes worldwide. Propagation of bacterial resistance is alarming and makes the search for new antimicrobials increasingly urgent. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Gttingen have now identified a potential new target to fight bacteria: the factor EF-P. EF-P plays a crucial role in the production of proteins that are essential for the virulence of EHEC or salmonellae. The researchers' findings suggest that drugs blocking EF-P would impair the fitness of pathogenic bacteria and might lead to a new generation of specific antibiotics that allow to combat infections caused by drug-resistant pathogens.

Bacteria in hospitals can pose a major risk to patients: According to estimates of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, up to 600,000 people in Germany alone contract a bacterial infection there every year; 15,000 of them die from the infection. A growing number of these cases are caused by multidrug-resistant pathogens bacteria that have become resistant to most common antibiotics. Experts have long been warning that new antibiotics cannot be provided quickly enough to fight such pathogens.

Scientists working with Marina Rodnina, head of the Physical Biochemistry Department at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, have now discovered a promising target for a new generation of antibiotics: a bacterial protein called elongation factor P (EF-P). Intestinal bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) or salmonellae lacking EF-P are less fit and not as virulent as usually. So far, however, the exact function of EF-P has remained unclear.

Structural studies by Nobel Prize laureate Tom Steitz from Yale University showed how EF-P binds to the cell's protein factories
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Contact: Prof. Marina V. Rodnina
rodnina@mpibpc.mpg.de
49-551-201-2901
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert

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