Until now, scientists have not understood what turns the ordinary streptococcus bacterium into something horrendous that can cause very invasive and potentially fatal diseases. Now, Dr Gary Black, and a team from Northumbria University’s School of Applied Sciences, has isolated one of the main enzymes known as a hyaluronidase, HylP1.

In a process similar to the one used in DNA testing, pure enzymes were produced in large quantities, by isolating the gene and then inserting it into a safe micro-organism for production. Once the genes were cloned, the enzyme it produces, HylP1, was crystallised and then the shape of the enzyme was determined. Black discovered a rare triple-stranded beta-helix shape, which is similar to only four other enzymes out of the thousands tested in recent years.

Black says: “Solving the three dimensional structure of the enzyme means we have a better understanding of how the enzymes bind to other matter and how they work. We need to understand how the enzyme works to understand how we can stop it”. Dr Black now hopes one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies will take up his research and use his findings to develop revolutionary life saving drugs. He says: “This is a major breakthrough which has the potential to save thousands of lives in the future.”

MEDICA.de; Source: Northumbria University