Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists defuse the 'Vietnam time bomb': How bacterial pathogen causes deadly tropical disease melioidosis

Date:
November 10, 2011
Source:
University of Sheffield
Summary:
A key mechanism by which a bacterial pathogen causes the deadly tropical disease melioidosis has been discovered by an international team of scientists.

New findings are published on 10 November 2011 in the journal Science and show how a toxin produced by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei kills cells by preventing protein synthesis. The study, led by the University of Sheffield, paves the way for the development of novel therapies to combat the bacterium which infects millions of people across South East Asia and Northern Australia.

Using intense X-rays at Diamond Light Source, the UK´s national synchrotron facility, and at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France, the research team solved the structure of a protein from Burkholderia, the function of which was initially unknown.

"The information gathered from the structure suggested that the protein was a previously unsuspected toxin and sparked a search for its mode of action. This eventually led to the discovery of how it prevents human cells from making proteins and helped us to understand how it causes cell death," says research lead Professor David Rice from the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Sheffield.

Melioidosis, along with HIV and tuberculosis, is one of the top three causes of death by infectious disease in parts of South East Asia and arises from infection by the bacterium which thrives in water and warm, moist soils and can enter the body through the lungs or through open wounds.

It causes either an acute form of the disease which presents immediately upon infection, or it can lay dormant in the body emerging many years, and often decades, later. In the acute form of the disease, even with a long course of treatment, mortality rates in endemic areas can be as high as 40 per cent. With a wide range of symptoms, melioidosis can be difficult to diagnose, hampering medical intervention.

"This disease is an everyday reality for many people living in the endemic areas and our findings will allow us to test if an inactivated toxin might be effective as a component of a vaccine," says Professor Rick Titball, a member of the team from the University of Exeter.

The delayed action of the bacteria has led to it being dubbed the `Vietnam time bomb´ following the recognition that many US military personnel who served in Vietnam have been infected. "Now that we know of the existence of this toxin it opens up opportunities for the development of novel drugs that could block its effects," says University of Sheffield Professor Stuart Wilson.

The study involved a consortium of UK scientists from the University of Sheffield, the University of Exeter, Diamond Light Source and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down. European and international partners included: the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France; Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia; the Malaysia Genome Institute; DSO National Laboratories, Singapore, and the Genome Institute of Singapore.

Kevin van Cauter, HE Advisor with the British Council, commented: "We are thrilled that PMI2 funding supported this international collaboration and are excited by the potential impact of the work."

These groups now plan to seek funding to continue the work and investigate potential applications of the toxin to fight other diseases, such as cancer, where it might usefully be employed in targeted therapies to prevent the proliferation of cancer cells.

Related Articles



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Sheffield. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Cruz-Migoni, G. M. Hautbergue, P. J. Artymiuk, P. J. Baker, M. Bokori-Brown, C.-T. Chang, M. J. Dickman, A. Essex-Lopresti, S. V. Harding, N. M. Mahadi, L. E. Marshall, G. W. Mobbs, R. Mohamed, S. Nathan, S. A. Ngugi, C. Ong, W. F. Ooi, L. J. Partridge, H. L. Phillips, M. F. Raih, S. Ruzheinikov, M. Sarkar-Tyson, S. E. Sedelnikova, S. J. Smither, P. Tan, R. W. Titball, S. A. Wilson, D. W. Rice. A Burkholderia pseudomallei Toxin Inhibits Helicase Activity of Translation Factor eIF4A. Science, 2011; 334 (6057): 821 DOI: 10.1126/science.1211915

Cite This Page:

University of Sheffield. "Scientists defuse the 'Vietnam time bomb': How bacterial pathogen causes deadly tropical disease melioidosis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111110142052.htm>.
University of Sheffield. (2011, November 10). Scientists defuse the 'Vietnam time bomb': How bacterial pathogen causes deadly tropical disease melioidosis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111110142052.htm
University of Sheffield. "Scientists defuse the 'Vietnam time bomb': How bacterial pathogen causes deadly tropical disease melioidosis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111110142052.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) — Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 17, 2014) — Demand for ivory has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of African elephants and now a conservation report says the illegal trade is overwhelming efforts to enforce the law. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins