A key enzyme in Mycobacterium tuberculosis helping the microbe to multiply rapidly has been discovered by scientists who view it as the target for new drugs to treat tuberculosis (TB).
The human equivalent of this enzyme has been targeted in some cancer treatments as well as in immunosuppressive chemotherapies.
Scientists at the University of Birmingham have now shown that inhibiting the same enzyme in M. tuberculosis effectively kills the bacterial cells.
The enzyme called IMPDH is crucial for the survival of both human and bacterial cells. It is involved in the first stage of producing guanine nucleotides -the raw materials needed for DNA synthesis - as well as many other housekeeping processes that keep the cell alive and functioning.
The researchers identified the three genes in M. tuberculosis that encode IMPDH and then screened a library of 16 compounds that were likely to impede its function to some extent.
Of the 16 diphenyl urea (DPU) compounds, 3 were able to inhibit IMPDH by more than 90%, killing M. tuberculosis cells.
The study was published in Microbiology on 17 November.