01 February 2018 - PRESS RELEASE

New antibiotic against the Tsutsugamushi disease pathogen discovered

Scientists have confirmed that the natural substance Corallopyronin A is highly effective against Tsutsugamushi disease.

This image may only be used for reporting on the scientific publication.

Corallopyronin A inhibits intracellular growth of Orientia tsutsugamushi. Left: After treatment with CorA, only a few individual red-stained pathogens are visible in the cell plasma.© 2018 American Society for Microbiology

Tsutsugamushi fever, or “scrub typhus”, is an infectious disease related to typhus, which is endemic in large parts of Asia. The disease has an estimated incidence of approximately one million cases every year. Mites transmit the disease and imported infections in vacationers are also of relevance. Not many classes of antibiotics effective against Orientia tsutsugamushi, the bacteria responsible for the disease are available. Reports about resistance to the standard drugs further limit treatment options. Without antibiotic treatment, the course of infection can be fatal.

In collaboration with DZIF researchers from Bonn, Jena and Giessen, a research group led by Dr Christian Keller, Institute for Virology at the Philipps University Marburg and Prof Bernhard Fleischer, Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in, Hamburg, has now been able to show that the natural antibiotic Corallopyronin A is a new, highly effective agent for treating Tsutsugamushi fever. Corallopyronin A was isolated from environmental bacteria and targets a bacterial enzyme called RNA polymerase. In preclinical trials, even low doses of the new antibiotic have proven to be very effective against Orientia tsutsugamushi.

“Tsutsugamushi fever is one of the neglected tropical infectious diseases. Worldwide, only a few research groups focus on this underestimated infection,” explains Christian Keller. He is convinced that the DZIF with its excellent network provides excellent conditions for developing new approaches to treating exotic infections like this. A few years ago, DZIF scientists from Bonn led by Prof Achim Hörauf, who has patented Corallopyronin A, could show that the substance is also effective against filarial worms. The manufacturing process is currently being developed further so as to attain industrial production levels.

Publication

Kock F, Hauptmann M, Osterloh A, Schäberle TF, Poppert S, Frickmann H, Menzel KD, Peschel G, Pfarr K, Schiefer A, König GM, Hoerauf A, Fleischer B, Keller C. Orientia tsutsugamushi is highly susceptible to the RNA polymerase switch region inhibitor Corallopyronin A in vitro and in vivo. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2018 Jan 22. pii: AAC.01732-17. doi: 10.1128/AAC.01732-17. [Epub ahead of print]

Image caption

Corallopyronin A inhibits intracellular growth of Orientia tsutsugamushi.
Orientia tsutsugamushi was bred in mice host cells under biosafety level 3 conditions. The cultures where treated with the new antibiotic Corallopyronin A (CorA) for four days or were left untreated. Left: After treatment with CorA, only a few individual red-stained pathogens are visible in the cell plasma. Right: In contrast, many red-stained Orientia can be seen in the untreated cells. The cell nuclei are stained blue, the cell structure consisting of actin filaments is green.

Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology, Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. doi.org/10.1128/AAC.01732-17
This image may only be used for reporting on the scientific publication.

Contact

Dr Christian Keller
Institute of Virology
University Hospital Marburg and Giessen
Philipps University Marburg
German Center for Infection Research; partner site Giessen-Marburg-Langen

E-mail

DZIF Press Office
Karola Neubert and Janna Schmidt
E-mail



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