Scientists decode TB enzyme, open way to new drugs

March 28th, 2009 - 4:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 28 (IANS) Scientists have decoded the unique structure and mechanism of a tuberculosis enzyme, paving the way for development of new drugs to combat active and latent tuberculosis infections.
Barbara Gerratana, assistant chemistry and biochemistry professor in Maryland University College of Chemical and Life Sciences, led the research team, which included her graduate student Melissa Resto and assistant professor Nicole LaRonde-LeBlanc.

“The NAD plus synthetase enzyme that our study describes is absolutely essential for the survival of tuberculosis bacteria and an important drug target. We can now use the information we have about its structure and mechanism to develop inhibitors for this enzyme,” Gerratana explained.

The development of new TB drugs has become urgent, as strains of TB resistant to all major anti-TB drugs have emerged worldwide. World Health Organisation estimates that one-third of the world’s population carries latent TB and that 10 percent will eventually develop the disease, said a Maryland release.

The study was published in the March issue of Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.

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