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New antibiotic candidates from Braunschweig
Date:10/17/2008

This press release is available in German.

A group of antibiotic natural products discovered at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig points out a new mode of action against pathogenic bacteria. Isolated from myxobacteria, the substances prevent an enzym of the pathogens from being able to translate their genetic material. In this way, the propagation of bacteria such as tuberculosis pathogens - is inhibited. A working group at Rutgers University in New Jersey (USA) has now joined up with HZI researchers and discovered in detail how these compounds interact with the target in pathogenic bacteria. The novel target is different from the target of known antibiotics such as rifamycin, a standard medication to counteract tuberculosis.

This discovery makes the Braunschweig natural products extremely interesting candidates for a development as antibiotics especially in view of the fact that the substances also kill bacterial strains that are resistant to antibiotics. Today, the scientists publish their results in the distinguished journal "Cell".

Antibiotics are an essential tool of medicine. We owe the antibiotics that diseases such as plague, cholera or tuberculosis are a thing of the past, at least in the industrialised world.

However, more and more bacteria are becoming resistant to medication. Consequently, doctors are in urgent need of new antibiotics. Their development is a demanding challenge: the drugs should attack the bacteria only but not interact with human cells. Subsequently, the number of effective antibiotic targets in bacteria is severely limited; every new active compound is warmly welcomed by the antibiotics researchers, especially if it highlights a new mode of action.

In the search for candidates which might be developed into such novel medicines the HZI enjoys a strong advantage:
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Contact: Hannes Schlender
hannes.schlender@helmholtz-hzi.de
49-531-618-11400
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert

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