Israel Seen – Israeli Scientists’ ‘Breakthrough’ Discovery
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology scientists have published Friday a “breakthrough” discovery in Science magazine, that could lead to the development of effective new antibiotic types to fight bacterial disease.
Due to overuse of existing antibiotics and the growing resistance of bacteria to them, in the US alone, approximately 500,000 patients at hospitals contract a staph infection. It is the bacteria responsible for MRSA, for which there is no vaccine.
The highly pathogenic Staphylococcus aureus bacteria is one of the five most common causes of hospital-acquired infections.
But all that could change, thanks to groundbreaking, for the first time, findings of unique amyloid fibrils through which the pathogenic and highly drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacterium attacks the human cells and immune system. The research could advance the discovery of new antibiotic with a novel mechanism of action that will attack key bacterial toxins.
The researcher team led by Assistant Professor Meytal Landau of the Faculty of Biology, discovered ‘ammunition’ that helps the bacteria: a novel form of an amyloid fibril whose three-dimensional structure was determined at atomic resolution, revealing the first-of-its-kind structure of this toxic fibril.
Amyloids, which are proteins notoriously known for their association with neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, form a network of protein fibrils – somewhat similar to a spider web – characterized by an orderly and extremely stable structure. This stability enables the proteins to withstand extreme conditions in which ordinary proteins do not survive.