Tweaking TraE protein proves ultimate cure for drug-resistant diseases

Researchers have developed proteins which could position itself in the locations which would be inhibited by the disease-causing pathogens. These potential proteins would be good for the health of the person while reducing the risk of an infection.

A DNA double helix is seen in an undated artist's illustration released by the National Human Genome Research Institute to Reuters on May 15, 2012. A group of 25 scientists June 2, 2016, proposed an ambitious project to create a synthetic human genome, or genetic blueprint, in an endeavor that is bound to raise concerns over the extent to which human life can or should be engineered. Reuters

As the risks caused by drug-resistant pathogen microorganisms continue unabated, a team of researchers from the University of Montreal (UdeM's), Canada has developed a technique to block the transfer of drug-resistant genes which could be used to cure drug-resistant diseases.

Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the research paper of researchers from the UdeM's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine Bastien Casu, Tarun Arya, Benoit Bessette and Christian Baron revealed a cure for the antibiotic resistance which caused serious threats to human health particularly during surgeries and cancer therapies.

Researchers screened chemical molecules which bind to the TraE protein, a component of the plasmid transfer machinery that carries antibiotic-resistant proteins from bacteria or yeasts DNA to humans.

The researchers analyzed X-ray crystallography of the plasmid DNA and identified the binding locations of the molecules on the TraE. This helped them to design more potent binding molecules which could hold the place of the antibiotic-resistant, gene-carrying plasmids to reduce its transfer.

According to a research, Christian Baron said, "You want to be able to find the 'soft spot' on a protein, and target it and poke it so that the protein cannot function. Other plasmids have similar proteins, some have different proteins, but I think the value of our study on TraE is that by knowing the molecular structure of these proteins we can devise methods to inhibit their function."

The researchers are currently working with the medicinal chemists at the UdeM's IRIC (Institut de recherche en immunologie et cancerologie) to develop new molecules to inhibit the antibiotic resistant gene transfers.

The researchers hope that these molecules would be useful for the patients who suffer due to the antibiotic resistance as reducing the transfer of antibiotic- resistance plasmids could increase the potential for antibiotics.

Christian Baron added, "The beauty of what we are working on here is that the proteins are very similar to proteins that bacteria use to cause disease. So from what we learned about the TraE protein and about finding its 'soft spot', we can actually apply this approach to other bacteria that cause diseases. One of those is Helicobacter pylori, which is a gastric pathogen that causes ulcers and stomach cancers. We're working on that one specifically now, but there are many others."

Joanne Liu, a UdeM pediatric physician and the international president of Doctors Without Borders, has called the rise of antibiotic resistance a "tsunami". The doctors group believes that the phrase has its significance as the problem comes like tides causing wide destruction.

Antibiotic resistance is the major reason for deaths caused by infectious diseases, making pathogens evolve to become incurable with currently known antibiotics causing death to the patients.

By 2050, an estimated 50 million people will die from antibiotic-resistant infections. The day when medicines can't treat infections with antibiotics is looming large but now people can retain some hope.

Similar researches on gene therapy are being undertaken at various institutes to cure genetical disorders in humans.