Originally written for SCG Innovation Institute.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide and the University of Queensland have discovered that zinc has the ability to inhibit protein transporters in Streptococcus pneumoniae, effectively starving the bacteria and making it easier for the human body to eliminate.
The research has been published in the Nature Chemical Biology journal, and details how the zinc inhibits the Streptococcus pneumoniae protein transporter PsaBCA, and prevents manganese from entering the bacteria. Manganese is essential in allowing the bacteria to effectively invade a human host, and replicate to levels necessary to cause illnesses such as pneumonia, meningitis, and other infectious diseases. Without the ability to intake manganese, the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria “starve”, and the remaining bacteria is easily destroyed by the immune system.
The bacteria causes over one million deaths per year, and the new research will pave the way for the development of new antibacterial medications to treat the diseases caused by the bacteria.