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New Bacterial Target Could Lead to a New Class of Drugs

Scientists at San Diego's Burnham Institute say they've found a new and valuable target in the hunt for deadly bacteria.

Modern medicine has many effective anti-bacterial medications. But some infectious diseases have evolved to become virtually drug-resistant. That's why the Burnham Institute of Medical Research was looking for a new way to kill bacteria. Now, Burnham professor Andrei Osterman has begun to target an enzyme that is an vital element of many bacteria.

"We looked for a target that would be part of central machinery, if you want. Central machinery of many, many bacterial pathogens, no matter how different they are," he said.

Osterman said this enzyme is "conserved," meaning it does not evolve. He has identified molecules that suppress the growth of the enzyme and that mechanism has the potential to kill bacterial infections. That could lead to a new class of drugs. So far Osterman's work has all been in the lab. Animal tests have yet to come.

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