September 17, 2009

Scientists discover new anti-TB compounds

U.S. researchers say they have identified compounds that can inhibit tuberculosis bacteria without harming human cells.

The scientists, led by researchers at the Weill Cornell Medical College, said their findings include structural studies of how the inhibitor molecules interact with TB bacterial proteins and could lead to the design of new anti-TB drugs.

We believe these findings represent a new approach for developing antibiotics in the fight against TB, Professor Carl Nathan, senior author of the study, said. "This is important because we are running out of effective antibiotics that are currently available. There are few drugs that successfully combat TB in its dormant stage, which makes the bacterium so resilient in the body.

More important, he added, there are many antibiotics that kill bacteria by blocking the synthesis of proteins, but there are none that kill bacteria by interfering with protein breakdown, as we have found here.

The study that included scientists from the Brookhaven National Laboratory and Rockefeller University appears in the early online edition of the journal Nature.