New York, Sep 23 (IANS) Researchers have identified a compound that blocks the growth of a fungus that causes deadly lung infections and allergic reactions in people with compromised immune systems.
The research team targetted the mechanism that allows the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus to survive in iron-deficient conditions like the human body.
Specifically, they targetted an enzyme known as SidA, which is essential for the synthesis of molecules called siderophores that are made during infection to steal iron from human proteins.
Furthermore, by performing high-throughput screening in the Virginia Tech Center for Drug Discovery Screening Laboratory, they found a compound called Celastrol that blocks the growth of iron-producing organelles in the fungus.
“The discovery of Celastrol as a SidA inhibitor represents the first building block in the development of drugs against A. fumigatus and related pathogens,” said Julia Martin del Campo, a postdoctoral research scientist at Virginia Tech in the US.
Aspergillus fumigatus is common and is typically found in soil and decaying organic matter.
Most people are exposed to it daily with little consequence, but it can cause lung damage in people with compromised immune systems, such as organ transplant recipients and people with AIDS or leukemia.
The mortality rate of this population, when exposed to the fungus, is more than 50 per cent, according to the authors.
The results were published in the journal ACS Chemical Biology.