A potential new method of attacking life-threatening bacteria has been revealed by Aberdeen University scientists in the journal Structure.
The breakthrough significantly advances the development of drugs for tackling the potentially deadly E coli, salmonella and brucella infections.
It will also target Pseudomonas, which can threaten cystic fibrosis patients and cause infection in people with compromised immune systems.
Professor Ian Booth at Aberdeen and Dr Tarmo Roosild at the Nevada Cancer Institute in Las Vegas, US, have discovered how protective “channels” in bacteria are triggered to open when under attack.
Professor Booth said : “Our next challenge is to design chemicals that fool the bacterium into locking the channel open all the time, which will then impair its growth, or we could lock it shut so it can’t protect itself.
“Discovery of new drugs through the structural analysis of proteins that underlie diseases, including cancer, and are potentially molecular targets for therapeutic intervention, is the primary focus of our research.”
Copyright Press Association 2009