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Experimental TB drug explodes bacteria from the inside out
Date:11/27/2008

certain immune system cells after they engulf M. tb or other bacteria. This is one way that people with healthy immune systems can contain M. tb infection. However, this natural immune response is not always enough to completely rid the body of TB bacteria. In essence, PA-824 performs similarly to the NO-producing immune cells--but the drug's effect is more specific and triggered only after it enters the bacteria.

The non-dividing M. tb bacteria characteristic of latent TB infections are walled off by immune cells that aggregate around the bacteria to form a body called a granuloma. Oxygen levels are low inside granulomas. In their latest research, the scientists observed that NO-generation during PA-824 metabolism is greatest when oxygen levels are low. This observation suggests how PA-824 may work against non-dividing M. tb.

PA-824 was originally designed to work best under aerobic, or oxygenated, conditions. With this new understanding of how the bacterial enzyme and cofactor act on PA-824 under low-oxygen conditions, Dr. Barry says, scientists can design drugs with a chemical structure similar to PA-824 but optimize them from the start to behave best under low-oxygen conditions. This work is already proceeding in the laboratory at NIAID and in partnership with collaborators from the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases in Singapore as well as with scientists from the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation in San Diego.

Because humans have neither the bacterial cofactor nor any enzymes equivalent to Ddn, PA-824 has no effect on human cells. Conversely, many bacteria have enzymes in the same family as Ddn. Thus, says Dr. Barry, it is possible to envision new kinds of NO-generating drugs designed to interact with enzymes associated with other disease-causing bacteria as well.


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Contact: Anne A. Oplinger
aoplinger@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Source:Eurekalert

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