Australian researchers have found that zinc can starve one of the world’s most deadly bacteria by preventing its uptake of an essential metal. The finding, by infectious disease researchers at the Univ. of Adelaide and The Univ. of Queensland, opens the way for further work to design antibacterial agents in the fight against Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is responsible for more than one million deaths a year, killing children, the elderly and other vulnerable people by causing pneumonia, meningitis and other serious infectious diseases. Published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, the researchers describe how zinc “jams shut” a protein transporter in the bacteria so that it cannot take up manganese, an essential metal that Streptococcus pneumoniae needs to be able to invade and cause disease in humans.
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