University of Dundee researchers has discovered an enzyme they believe could be key to preventing Group A Streptococcus that causes more than 500,000 deaths worldwide annually. They were joined by colleagues at the University of Edinburgh and the Russian Academy of Sciences.
According to the press release from University of Dundee, antimicrobial resistance is a global problem. For example, existing antibiotics fail to work around 20% of cases of strep throat. Hence the lead team from Dundee sought to undertake a discovery to aid in the development of a new class of antimicrobial drugs that could completely inhibit or reduce the enzyme’s activity.
The research team found an enzyme that is required to produce a carbohydrate on the surface of the streptococcal bacterium which enables it to infect humans and animals. Further, their efforts reveal new opportunities to inhibit this enzyme and, ultimately, fight Group A Streptococcus infections. The fact this enzyme works through a novel mechanism of action that can also be found in other streptococcal specifies the impact and relevance of this finding.
The New Enzyme
Called α-D-GlcNAc-β-1,4-L-rhamnosyltransferase the new enzyme is not present in humans or animals, therefore providing a novel opportunity for drug discovery programs.
The Next Steps
The team now will push forward—with a goal of working with the University’s Drug Discovery Unit to develop compounds that could target this enzyme.
Dr. Helge Dorfmueller, Division of Molecular Microbiology, University of Dundee
Azul Zorzoli, Ph.D. Student
Ben Meyer, Former Post Doc