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Cholera vs Cholera

Research from Dr Bruce Turnbull’s group has appeared on the cover of Angewandte Chemie and has been flagged as a “Very Important Paper”, placing it in the top 5% of papers in this prestigious journal.

The paper describes work undertaken by Drs Tom Branson and Tom McAllister, along with other colleagues in Leeds and at Wageningen University, to develop a novel strategy for making inhibitors that can neutralise toxins produced by bacteria.

Cholera, travellers’ diarrhoea, and related diseases caused by E. coli O157, are caused by protein toxins that comprise a single toxic A-subunit and five copies of a non-toxic B-subunit that delivers the A-subunit into cells that line the intestine. The team re-engineered the cholera toxin B-subunit to make a non-toxic glycoprotein that was no longer able to interact with cell membranes, but could bind tightly to the parent toxin protein. By matching the size and valency of the binding sites on the toxin, the inhibitor is able to form a very stable complex discrete complex. This strategy could be adapted to develop inhibitors of a broad range of bacterial toxins and other multimeric proteins.

The cops and robbers inside cover image was designed by Tom Branson who writes about journal cover art for Chemistry World. On his own blog, Chemically Cultured, Tom has posted an article about the development of the cover image.

The research was supported by EPSRC and COST Action network “Multivalent Glycosystems for Nanoscience” which is led by Bruce Turnbull. A press release on the article can be found on the Angewandte website and has been picked up by several news websites.