Notre Dame Scientists Search for TB Cure

by Notre Dame News

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)—Scientists at the University of Notre Dame say they may have found a new way to kill the bacteria that causes tuberculosis by shutting off its supply of the vital nutrient iron.p. Normally, a molecule in the bacteria’s outer membrane allows it to absorb and process the iron that is essential to germs and people alike.p. The Notre Dame researchers created synthetic, altered versions of that molecule, called siderophores. When the TB bacteria is immersed in a solution containing some of those molecules it dies, apparently because it cannot absorb iron, they said.p. ``TB has a very specialized iron-transport process and we think we’re interfering with that. Without iron, it can’t survive,‘’ said Marvin J. Miller, a bio-organic chemist at Notre Dame.p. More than 1,000 variations of the molecule have been tested by a national lab for their effectiveness against TB, with at least two showing great promise, he said.p. Miller cautioned that the work by his team and researchers at the University of Illinois in Chicago is preliminary and any new drug would be years away.p. TB kills about 2 million people worldwide each year and is becoming increasingly drug-resistant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.p. Miller’s team last month received a four-year $1.5 million federal grant to continue its work on the synthetic versions of the iron-transporting molecules.p. Miller said he and his colleagues will use the money to find better ways to make the synthetic molecule more stable so it lasts longer under different conditions and to determine precisely how it works.p.

AP-NY-03-24-04 1207EST

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