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Chasing EHEC with the computer
Date:6/10/2011

pinpoint promising targets in experiments." The Saarbrcken-based scientists are therefore offering free access to their EhecRegNet web platform, in order to involve all biomedical scientists and pharmacists around the world in the search for drugs against the EHEC pathogen. "We envision a new generation of drugs which, in contrast to antibiotics, will not kill whole populations of bacteria. We want to use the genetic pathways in the bacteria to switch specific genes on and off", says Baumbach.

This could render the bacteria harmless or susceptible to the defence mechanisms of the immune system. "Perhaps this way we will be able to combat pathogens using their own genetic program in the future", Baumbach suggests. Less aggressive bacteria are often flushed out of the intestine with diarrhoea. The EHEC pathogens circumvent this natural mechanism with their strong adhesion to the intestinal wall.

Jan Baumbach's research group at the Saarbrcken Cluster of Excellence "Multimodal Computing and Interaction" at Saarland University has already constructed similar web platforms for corynebacteria which, among other things, trigger diphtheria, and for tuberculosis. With the help of complex computational methods, bioinformatics scientists use these platforms to compare harmless laboratory strains of bacteria with disease-causing bacteria. "Our computer simulations drastically reduce the number of necessary trials in animals and experiments in test tubes. This, in turn, cuts the time until medical scientists and pharmacists can develop drugs based on the genetic switches," Jan Baumbach adds.


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Contact: Dr. Jan Baumbach
jbaumbac@mpi-inf.mpg.de
49-068-130-270-880
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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