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Chemist solves riddle of killer diseases
Date:6/23/2011

Anthrax, septicemia and meningitis are some of the planet's most deadly infections. In part because doctors lack basic insights to prevent and cure diseases caused by so called Gram-positive bacteria. Now, a chemist from the University of Copenhagen has revealed the mechanism behind these deadly infections.

By creating a synthetic version of a Gram-positive bacterial endotoxin, Danish synthetic chemist Christian Marcus Pedersen has made a contribution that'll compel immune biologists to revise their textbooks. More importantly, he has paved the first steps of the way towards new and effective types of antibiotics.

Chemist in international collaboration with biologists and physicians

The research results were attained in collaboration with Prof. Richard R. Schmidt of the University of Konstanz and biologists at the Leibniz-Zentrum fr Medizin und Biowissenschaften in Borstel, Germany. Ulrich Zhringer, leader of the Center in Borstel, is thrilled with Pedersen's achievement.

"No one knew what substance Gram-positive bacteria released to make us sick. But because Pedersen can supply us with substances that are entirely pure, and have a known structure and composition, we are able to get a more precise answer as to why we show symptoms when these bacteria enter our body," explains Professor Zhringer.

Synthesis succeeds where biologists gave up

Lipoteichoic acid, is a substance created and present in the cell wall of Gram positive bacteria. It appears to be the culprit of stimulating immune response symptoms such as fever, inflammation and organ failure. Indeed, when exploring illness, it is critical to investigate the substances that bind themselves to healthy human cells and thus, the cell wall becomes an important place to look. But if the substance breaks down as soon as it comes under the microscope, the chances of studying its binding abilities are not very great. Therefore, it was a major breakthrough when
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Contact: Christian Marcus Pedersen
cmp@chem.ku.dk
453-532-0190
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert  

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