Leicester scientists have for the first time created a detailed image of a toxin — called pneumolysin —associated with deadly infections such as bacterial pneumonia, meningitis, and septicaemia.
The three-year study involving four research groups from across the University has been described as an exciting advance because it points to the possibility of creating therapeutics that block assembly of pneumolysin pores to treat people with pneumococcal disease. The University has recently set up a company called Axendos Therapeutics to pursue this aim.
Using a technique called X-ray crystallography at Diamond Light Source, the U.K.’s national synchrotron science facility, the Leicester team was able to see the individual atoms of the toxin. The structure not only reveals what the toxin looks like, but also shows how it assembles on the surface of cells to form lethal pores.
Funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, the University of Leicester research published in Scientific Reports was led by Professor Russell Wallis of the Departments of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation and Molecular and Cell Biology and Professor Peter Andrew, Head of Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation.
Release Date: November 24, 2015
Source: University of Leicester