Using a technique that has shown promise in targeting cancer tumors, a Duke Health team has found a way to deploy a molecular warhead that can annihilate the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
Tested in cell cultures using the Borrelia burgdoferi bacterium, the approach holds the potential to target not only bacteria, but also fungi such as yeast and viruses. The findings appear in the journal Cell Chemical Biology.
“This transport mechanism gets internalized in the bacterium and brings in a molecule that causes what we’ve described as a berserker reaction – a programmed death response,” said lead author Timothy Haystead, Ph.D., professor in Duke’s Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology. “It wipes out the bacteria — sterilizes the culture with a single dose of light. And then when you look at what occurs with electron microscopy, you see the collapse of the chromosome.”
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