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Munich researchers discover new target for tailored antibiotics
Date:7/14/2009

This release is available in German.

More and more strains of bacteria are developing resistance to previously life-saving antibiotics. Researchers at TUM, the Technische Universitaet Muenchen, have shed light on a metabolic step that appears in many aggressive microorganisms -- such as tuberculosis and malaria pathogens -- and that may provide a promising target for a new class of antibiotics. The researchers present their results in the chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie.

Antibiotics can hold harmful pathogens in check by interfering with their ability to produce essential compounds. Ever more bacterial strains are developing multiple antibiotic resistances, however, rendering previously life-saving medications ineffective. That is why researchers around the world are searching for new reaction steps that are vital to microorganisms but play no relevant role in humans. Professor Michael Groll, Dr. Jrg Eppinger, and Dr. Tobias Grwert, biochemists at the Technische Universitt Mnchen, and their research team have described in detail the structural basis for just such a reaction step.

The cells of virtually all life forms synthesize essential natural substances belonging to the class of terpenes and steroids from the small isoprene building blocks dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP) and isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP). Mammals and a large number of other organisms generate these essential metabolites via the so-called mevalonate pathway. But most human pathogens, including Plasmodium falciparum, have developed an alternate mechanism for producing these important substances. Now, this special pathway may spell doom for those bacteria. The TUM researchers have unraveled the structural basis of the terminal step in bacterial isoprene synthesis. The crucial enzyme has a most unusual structure, similar to a three-leaf clover, and m
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Contact: Dr. Andreas Battenberg
battenberg@zv.tum.de
49-892-891-2890
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Source:Eurekalert

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