Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Mycobacteria and infectious disease

An EU team studied chemical structures of certain bacteria, and their role in disease. New understanding - of how phenolic glycolipids, and associated sugars help avoid human immune response - may lead to treatment options.
Mycobacteria and infectious disease
The term mycobacterial refers to a family of bacteria which is responsible for certain serious human diseases. The list includes leprosy and tuberculosis, against which vaccines and antibiotics have proven to be only partially effective.

The EU-funded PGLMP (Deciphering the role of phenolic glycolipids in mycobacterial pathogenesis) project investigated how disease-causing mycobacteria established infection. In particular, the group examined the mycobacterial capacity to suppress host immune response, including the role of phenolic glycolipids (PGL).

Project researchers took a cross-disciplinary approach to study the biological roles of PGL. The team genetically reprogrammed a particular strain to force synthesis of species-specific PGLs from disease-causing mycobacteria. Simultaneously, the group also chemically synthesised species-specific sugars, so as to investigate their structures.

Results showed that the use of complex sugars specific to PGL antigens from leprosy- and tuberculosis-causing species confer an advantage to bacteria in terms of infectivity and evasion of host immune response.

The PGLMP project contributed new understanding of key mechanism involved in certain human diseases, which may lead to more effective treatments. The work also raised the level of European expertise in relevant medical areas.

Related information


Mycobacteria, leprosy, tuberculosis, phenolic glycolipids, immunity
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