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The discovery of an important mechanism that bacteria use to protect themselves against the onslaught of the human immune system could pave the way for the development of new antibiotics.
A study published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences described how flavohemoglobin, a bacterial protein, detoxifies nitric oxide that the immune system produces to help kill disease-causing microorganisms. "Bacteria vary enormously in their ability to defend themselves against nitric oxide," said Andrew Salzman, MD, of Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati and a coauthor of the study. "But if you remove this protein from bacteria, you can kill them with almost nothing. They're exquisitely sensitive to nitric oxide."
Voelker R. Bacterial Defense Uncovered. JAMA. 1998;280(12):1041. doi:10.1001/jama.280.12.1041-JQU80006-3-1