Chemist solves riddle killer diseases

Chemist solves riddle of killer diseases

2:27 PM, 24th June 2011
Chemist solves riddle of killer diseases
Christian Marcus Pedersen, Danish Synthetic Chemist.

Bacterial poison Anthrax, septicemia and meningitis are some of the planet’s most deadly infections. In part because doctors lack basic insights to prevent and cure diseases caused by so called Gram-positive bacteria. Now, a chemist from the University of Copenhagen has revealed the mechanism behind these deadly infections.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK: By creating a synthetic version of a Gram-bacterial endotoxin, Danish Synthetic Chemist Christian Marcus Pedersen has made a contribution that’ll compel immune biologists to revise their textbooks. More importantly, he has paved the first steps of the way towards new and effective types of antibiotics.

The research results were attained in collaboration with Professor Richard R Schmidt, University of Konstanz and biologists at the Leibniz-Zentrum für Medizin und Biowissenschaften in Borstel, Germany. “No one knew what substance Gram-positive bacteria released to make us sick. But because Pedersen can supply us with substances that are entirely pure and have a known structure and composition, we are able to get a more precise answer as to why we show symptoms when these bacteria enter our body,” explained Professor Ulrich Zähringer, leader of the Centre in Borstel.

“Biologists have been trying to isolate this poison from living organisms for years. But the substance has a number of active groups. That is to say, the spiked parts of the molecule which enable the entire molecule to bind to cells. This makes it extremely difficult to purify. And dirty molecules are not conducive to viable research. Therefore, it’s a great advantage to fabricate the substance synthetically, because we can ‘build’ a molecule,” said Pedersen.

Lipoteichoic acid consists of 335 atoms combined in tangle, the complexity of which has made it difficult to collect. These synthetic biomolecules are a fantastic tool for biologists in the investigation of Gram-positive bacteria’s attack mechanisms.

“When it comes to these bacteria, there is still no one who knows precisely what on the bacteria activates the immune system. But we can build the precise parts of the structure that we want to. And biologists can examine how what we have built reacts with the immune system,” said Pedersen.

The results, presented in a series of articles in the esteemed journal Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, can be used in the development of antibiotics to kill some of the multi-resistant bacterial strains which cause headaches for hospitals worldwide. Christian Marcus Pedersen is currently seeking funding to broaden the scope of his work.

(C) University of Copenhagen news

 

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