Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

A Molecular “Superglue” Based on Flesh-Eating Bacteria

Published: Monday, April 15, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, April 15, 2013
Bookmark and Share
In a classic case of turning an enemy into a friend, scientists have engineered a protein from flesh-eating bacteria to act as a molecular “superglue” that promises to become a disease fighter.

And their latest results, which make the technology more versatile, were the topic of a report here today at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

“We’ve turned the tables and put one kind of flesh-eating bacterium to good use,” said Mark Howarth, Ph.D., who led the research. “We have engineered one of its proteins into a molecular superglue that adheres so tightly that the set-up we used to measure the strength actually broke. It resists high and low temperatures, acids and other harsh conditions and seals quickly. With this material we can lock proteins together in ways that could underpin better diagnostic tests — for early detection of cancer cells circulating in the blood, for instance. There are many uses in research, such as probing how the forces inside cells change the biochemistry and affect health and disease.”

Howarth’s team at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom genetically engineered the glue from a protein, FbaB, that helps Streptococcus pyogenes (S. pyogenes) bacteria infect cells. S. pyogenes is one of the microbes that can cause the rare necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating bacteria syndrome, in which difficult-to-treat infections destroy body tissue.

They split FbaB into two parts, a larger protein and a smaller protein subunit, termed a peptide. Abbreviating S. pyogenes as “Spy,” they named the small peptide “SpyTag” and the larger protein “SpyCatcher.” The gluing action occurs when SpyTag and SpyCatcher meet. They quickly lock together by forming one of the strongest possible chemical bonds. SpyCatcher and SpyTag can be attached to the millions of proteins in the human body and other living things, thus gluing proteins together.

In an advance reported at the meeting, Howarth described how Jacob Fierer, a graduate student on the research team, greatly reduced the size of the SpyCatcher part of the technology. That achievement makes the technology more flexible, enabling scientists to connect proteins into new architectures, he said.

One of the applications on the horizon involves testing the technology as a new way to detect “circulating tumor cells,” or CTCs. Tumors shed these cells into the bloodstream, where they may act as seeds, spreading or metastasizing cancer from the original site to other parts of the body. That spreading is the reason why cancer is such a serious health problem. Detecting CTCs is an active area of research worldwide because of its potential for early diagnosis of cancer — from blood samples rather than biopsies — and determining when new treatments may be needed to prevent the disease from spreading.

Howarth said that the Spy technology has advantages over other molecular gluing systems that are available. SpyCatcher and SpyTag, for instance, can glue two proteins together at any point in the protein. “That flexibility allows us many different ways to label proteins and gives us new approaches to assemble proteins together for diagnostic tests,” Howarth explained.

Howarth and colleagues are working with Isis Innovation, the University of Oxford’s technology transfer company, to find potential partners to bring the Spy system to the market.

The researchers acknowledge funding from the Clarendon Fund.


Further Information

Join For Free

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 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 5,000+ 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

Spotting Falsified, Degraded Medications
A team of researchers has developed a simple, inexpensive paper-based device to screen suspicious medications.
Monday, August 22, 2016
Frankfurter Fraud: Finding Out What’s In Your Hot Dog
Scientists have developed a technique to test the meat content of Frankfurters.
Friday, August 12, 2016
Portable Test Rapidly Detects Zika
To better diagnose and track the disease, scientists are now reporting a new $2 test that in the lab can accurately detect low levels of the virus in saliva.
Friday, July 01, 2016
Detecting Fake Parmesan Cheeses
Scientists report on a way to catch adulteration of the regional artisanal products.
Friday, May 20, 2016
Measuring The Airborne Toxicants Urban Bicyclists Inhale
Researchers analyze breath biomarkers to measure uptake of volatile organic compounds by bicyclists.
Friday, May 06, 2016
Vinegar Could Potentially Help Treat Ulcerative Colitis
Vinegar is the perfect ingredient for making tangy sauces and dressings. Now, researchers report that the popular liquid could also help fight ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that research suggests is related to the gut microbiome.
Monday, February 15, 2016
Sniffing Out Cancer
Scientists have been exploring new ways to “smell” signs of cancer by analyzing what’s in patients’ breath.
Thursday, October 01, 2015
New, Improved Approach To Mammograms
Detecting breast cancer in women with dense mammary tissues could become more reliable with a new mammogram procedure that researchers have now tested in pre-clinical studies of mice.
Friday, September 18, 2015
“Heat” From Chilli Peppers Could Help Kill Cancer Cells
Capsaicin, the compound responsible for chilis’ heat, is used in creams sold to relieve pain, and recent research shows that in high doses, it kills prostate cancer cells.
Friday, September 11, 2015
Preventing Drinking Water Contamination by Pharmaceuticals
In recent years, researchers have realized that many products, including pharmaceuticals, have ended up where they’re not supposed to be — in our drinking water.
Friday, September 11, 2015
Cheap Diagnostics with a Portable "Paper Machine"
Scientists have developed a cheap, portable system for point of care diagnostics for a range of infectious diseases, genetic conditions and cancer.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Microfluidic Device Mixes And Matches DNA For Synthetic Biology
Researchers have developed a microfluidic device that quickly builds packages of DNA and delivers them into bacteria or yeast for further testing.
Monday, July 06, 2015
Artificial Pancreas Controls Diabetes
Scientists are reporting the development of an implantable “artificial pancreas” that continuously measures a person’s blood sugar, or glucose, level and can automatically release insulin as needed.
Friday, July 03, 2015
Expanding the Code of Life With New “Letters”
Researchers have developed a new nucleotide pair that can be added to DNA, raising the possibility that entirely new proteins could be created for medical uses.
Friday, May 29, 2015
Bioresorbable Electronic Stent Could Provide Feedback, Therapy
Researchers have developed and tested a drug releasing electronic stent which could significantly reduce the risk associated with traditional mesh tube stents.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Scientific News
Point of Care Diagnostics - A Cautious Revolution
Advances in molecular biology, coupled with the miniaturization and improved sensitivity of assays and devices in general, have enabled a new wave of point-of-care (POC) or “bedside” diagnostics.
Mass Spec Technology Drives Innovation Across the Biopharma Workflow
With greater resolving power, analytical speed, and accuracy, new mass spectrometry technology and techniques are infiltrating the biopharmaceuticals workflow.
One Step Closer to Precision Medicine for Chronic Lung Disease Sufferers
A study led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and National Jewish Health, has provided evidence of links between SNPs and known COPD blood protein biomarkers.
Charles River Acquires Agilux
Enhances Charles River’s early-stage capabilities in bioanalytical services.
Scientists Find Lethal Vulnerability in Treatment-Resistant Lung Cancer
The study describes how the drug Selinexor killed lung cancer cells and shrank tumors in mice when used against cancers driven by the aggressive and difficult-to-treat KRAS cancer gene.
How Baby’s Genes Influence Birth Weight And Later Life Disease
The large-scale study could help to target new ways of preventing and treating these diseases.
Genes Underlying Dogs’ Social Ability Revealed
The social ability of dogs is affected by genes that also seem to influence human behaviour, according to a new study from Linköping University in Sweden.
‘Cellbots’ Chase Down Cancer, Deliver Drugs Directly to Tumors
Programmable T cells shown to be versatile, precise, and powerful in lab studies.
Drug to Treat Alcohol Use Disorder Shows Promise Among Drinkers With High Stress
The findings suggest that potential future studies with drugs targeting vasopressin blockade should focus on populations of people with AUD who also report high levels of stress.
C Dots Show Powerful Tumor Killing Effect
Nanoparticles known as Cornell dots, or C dots, have shown great promise as a therapeutic tool in the detection and treatment of cancer.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

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
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,000+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!