Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Immunology
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

TB Bacteria's Trash-Eating Inspires Search for New Drugs

Published: Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Bookmark and Share
When hijacking a garbage truck, one might as well make use of the trash. That logic drives how tuberculosis-causing bacteria feed, say Cornell scientists.

They report that bacteria-infecting macrophages – garbage truck-like immune cells – slow their hosts’ trash-processing abilities to snack on trash they pick up. The study, selected as Editor’s Choice in the journal Cellular Microbiology June’s issue, opens a new road in the search for better drugs to fight tuberculosis.

One of the world’s deadliest diseases, tuberculosis has been the No. 1 killer in many regions at different times throughout history, including the United States. It still infects a one-third of the world’s population, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and remains a leading killer of people who are infected with HIV. The bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis spread through air to cause the disease in humans and animals, usually attacking the lungs.

Though cases have declined in the United States, other parts of the world are experiencing increased incidence of tuberculosis, and new drug-resistant strains are emerging constantly, raising the stakes in the arms race for treatments.

“We are studying how this microbe deals with its host being an immune cell meant to kill microbes,” said microbiologist David Russell, the William Kaplan Professor of Infection Biology at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “We’ve uncovered several ways the microbe changes the macrophage it infects to ensure its survival. Our lab’s drug-discovery branch is now using this new knowledge to identify molecules that could kill M. tuberculosis inside its host after infection.”

Russell’s lab developed a panel of tests that make real-time fluorescent images and quantitative measures of what happens in macrophages – big immune cells that patrol tissues, pick up debris from old or dead cells and sometimes kill microbes they encounter. A macrophage ingests its targets into its phagosome, a stomachlike compartment where it breaks down what has been picked up.

Important things macrophages pick up include low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), which move fatty lipids including cholesterol through the bloodstream. Too many LDLs, also known informally as “bad cholesterol,” can build plaques in arteries that can cause strokes, heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases. Macrophages help prevent plaques by consuming LDLs and breaking down their lipids.

But tuberculosis bacteria cripple infected macrophages’ abilities to process lipids, Russell found. Infected macrophages keep lipids in a way they didn’t before, and the bacteria feed on this fatty refuse while slowing the macrophages’ ability to remove plaque-causing LDLs. Images Russell captured caught the bacteria snacking red-handed, showing lipids moving from the macrophage’s phagosome into the bacteria.

“Seeing this process has helped us design our drug-discovery work to better match what’s happening in human tuberculosis,” said Russell. “Now that we have a better understanding of how these bacteria feed, our lab is looking for compounds that can use their feeding strategy against them to starve them or kill them outright to treat people who have been infected.”


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Synthetic Immune Organ Produces Antibodies
Cornell engineers have created a functional, synthetic immune organ that produces antibodies and can be controlled in the lab, completely separate from a living organism.
Friday, June 12, 2015
Expelled DNA that Traps Toxins May Backfire in Obese
The body’s most powerful immune cells may have a radical way of catching their prey that could backfire on people who are overweight.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Discovery Could Revolutionize Immunization
Immune cells in newborns appear to be more ready to do battle than previously thought.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Immune Response Linked to Key Enzyme
A family of enzymes may contribute to scientists’ understanding of signaling molecules involved in the body’s immune response.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Inflammation Drives Crohn's Disease, Says Study
Recent studies show marked changes in the composition of the intestinal bacteria in people with CD.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Bacteria Employ 'Quality-control' Machinery, say Biomolecular Engineers
Like quality-control managers in factories, bacteria possess built-in machinery that track the shape and quality of proteins trying to pass through their cytoplasmic membranes.
Friday, August 03, 2012
The Force is with us: GEDI Chip Sorts Prostate Cancer Cells
Geometrically Enhanced Differential Immunocapture chip identify and collect cancer cells from a patient's bloodstream.
Friday, June 29, 2012
Immune Cells Found to Counter Obesity-Related Diabetes
Activation of NKT cells reduces inflammation, and also reduces insulin resistance and increases glucose tolerance.
Monday, May 21, 2012
Scientific News
Childhood Cancer Cells Drain Immune System’s Batteries
Cancer cells in neuroblastoma contain a molecule that breaks down a key energy source for the body’s immune cells, leaving them too physically drained to fight the disease.
Researchers Discover Immune System’s 'Trojan Horse'
Oxford University researchers have found that human cells use viruses as Trojan horses, transporting a messenger that encourages the immune system to fight the very virus that carries it.
Researchers Discover New Type of Mycovirus
Virus infects the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus, which can cause the human disease aspergillosis.
How to Become a Follicular T Helper Cell
Uncovering the signals that govern the fate of T helper cells is a big step toward improved vaccine design.
Sorting Through Cellular Statistics
Aaron Dinner, professor in chemistry, and his graduate student Herman Gudjonson are trying to read the manual of life, DNA, as part of the Dinner group’s research into bioinformatics—the application of statistics to biological research.
Women’s Immune System Genes Operate Differently from Men’s
A new technology reveals that immune system genes switch on and off differently in women and men, and the source of that variation is not primarily in the DNA.
Experimental MERS Vaccine Shows Promise in Animal Studies
A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines.
HIV Susceptibility Linked to Little-Understood Immune Cell Class
High levels of diversity among immune cells called natural killer cells may strongly predispose people to infection by HIV, and may be driven by prior viral exposures, according to a new study.
New Weapon in the Fight Against Blood Cancer
This strategy, which uses patients’ own immune cells, genetically engineered to target tumors, has shown significant success against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that is largely incurable.
Scientists Create CRISPR/Cas9 Knock-In Mutations in Human T Cells
In a project spearheaded by investigators at UC San Francisco, scientists have devised a new strategy to precisely modify human T cells using the genome-editing system known as CRISPR/Cas9.
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!