Researchers trick bacteria into generating own vaccine

February 25th, 2009 - 11:22 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 25 (IANS) Scientists have tricked bacteria into growing mutant sugar molecules on their cell surfaces that could be used against them as the key component in potent vaccines.
Any resulting vaccines, if proven safe, could be developed more quickly, easily and cheaply than many currently available vaccines used to prevent bacterial illnesses.

“We are showing for the first time that you don’t have to use complicated chemical reactions to make the alteration to the polysaccharide,” said Peng George Wang, professor of biochemistry and chemistry at Ohio State University and study co-author.

“All we need to do is ferment the bacteria, and then the polysaccharides that grow on the surface of the cell already incorporate the modification.”

Most vaccines against bacteria are created with polysaccharides, or long strings of sugars found on the surface of bacterial cells. The most common way to develop these vaccines is to remove sugars from the cell surface and link them to proteins to give them more power to kill bacteria, said an Ohio release, written by Emily Caldwell.

Polysaccharides alone don’t generate a strong enough antibody response needed to kill bacteria. But this new technique would provide an easy approach to make a small alteration to the sugar structure and produce the polysaccharide by simple fermentation.

The research is scheduled to appear in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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