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Targeting metals to fight pathogenic bacteria

Akbar Espaillat Felipe CavaFelipe Cava and Akbar Espaillat at the MIMS participated in the discovery of a unique system of acquisition of essential metals in the pathogenic bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. This research was led by scientists at the CEA in France, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Pau, the INRA and the CNRS. It represents a new potential target for the design of antibiotics. These results are being published in the journal Science on Friday 27th May.

Metals are necessary for life and pathogenic bacteria have developed elaborate systems to compensate for the low concentration of these essential metals in their environment, in particular within a host. The case of iron is particularly well documented with, in some bacteria, the production of molecules called siderophores that specifically capture iron in the medium. Researchers have now identified a new metal scavenging molecule produced in the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus and baptized it staphylopine.

Read more: Targeting metals to fight pathogenic bacteria

"The quiet revolutionary" - Emmanuelle Charpentier in Nature Feature

160428 Nature Feature EC[2016-04-27] Nature’s senior European correspondent Alison Abbott visited the Max-Planck-director and UCMR guest professor in her new office in Berlin and talked to her about how the CRISPR findings changed her life. Emmanuelle  Charpentier speaks also about her life before CRISPR-Cas9 and how her lab performed the first key experiments in Austria and Sweden. Statements from former colleagues, supervisors, collaborators and co-funders complete the nice portrait of a scientist who "always seems to be moving while keeping science on the go".

play Read the News Feature in Nature 522 (28 April 2016)

Cpf1: CRISPR-enzyme scissors cutting both RNA and DNA

[2016-04-20] Scientists delineate molecular details of a new bacterial CRISPR-Cpf1 system and open possible avenue for alternative gene editing uses like targeting several genes in parallel. (Nature 20 April 2016)

Only a few years after its discovery, it is difficult to conceive of genetics without the CRISPR-Cas9 enzyme scissors, which allow for a very simple, versatile and reliable modification of DNA of various organisms. Since its discovery, scientists throughout the world have been working on ways of further improving or adjusting the CRISPR-Cas9 system to their specific needs. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, the Umeå University in Sweden and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig have now discovered a feature of the CRISPR-associated protein Cpf1 that has previously not been observed in this family of enzymes: Cpf1 exhibits dual, RNA and DNA, cleavage activity. In contrast to CRISPR-Cas9, Cpf1 is able to process the pre-crRNA on its own, and then using the processed RNA to specifically target and cut DNA. Not requiring a host derived RNase and the tracrRNA makes this the most minimalistic CRISPR immune system known to date. The mechanism of combining two separate catalytic moieties in one allows for possible new avenues for sequence specific genome engineering, most importantly facilitation of targeting multiple sites at once, the so-called multiplexing.

Read more: Cpf1: CRISPR-enzyme scissors cutting both RNA and DNA

France celebrates Emmanuelle Charpentier during the L'Oreal-UNESCO week in Paris

France Inter[2016-03-24] The L'Oréal Foundation and UNESCO organise a week with media and scientific meetings for the five laureates of the 2016 L'Oréal- UNESCO For Women in Science Awards in the field of Life Sciences. The French woman Emmanuelle Charpentier is a quested person by the French media, giving TV and radio interviews, meeting the press, and also the scientists and students ath the Académie des Sciences. The L'Oreal organised a media marathon for the laureates which represent five continents: From Latin America, Andrea Gmarnik is honored for her discoveries on mosquito-borne viruses, particularly Dengue Fever. From Asia/Pacific the awardee is Hualan Chen, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Harbin, China, honored for her research about the bird flu virus, which lead to development of vaccine. Abdool Karim, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, represents Africa and the Arab states and is honored for her "remarkable contribution to the prevention and treatment of HIV and associated infections".

ARTEEmmanuelle Charpentier, representing Europe, is awarded "for her game-changing discovery,(...), of a versatile DNA editing technique to “rewrite” flawed genes in people and other living organisms, opening tremendous new possibilities for treating, even curing, diseases." Which is the same motivation as for Jennifer Doudna, who is the fifth women representing North-America. Nominated by more than 2600 leading scientists, a jury, chaired by Nobel Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, selected this year's laureates. The Prize Ceremony is held on Thursday, 24 March at the Sorbonne in Paris.

More information about the 2016 L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award in Life Science

Canadian Gairdner Award to Emmanuelle Charpentier

[2016-03-23] The Gairdner Foundation is awarding Emmanuelle Charpentier and four other scientists with the Gairdner International Award 2016, Canada's most prestigious medical award.

The laureates will be awarded in October during a visit in Canada to speak with faculty and students at 20 universities in the country. The Canada Gairdner International Award is given to "biomedical scientists who have made original contributions to medicine resulting in increased understanding of human biology and disease". Each award is valued $ 100,000 CDN, supported by the Canadian government. Emmanuelle Charpentier is honored "for development of CRISPR-CAS as a genome editing tool for eukaryotic cells".

Read more on the webpage of  the Gairdner Foundation

New compounds discovered as possible candidates for new antimicrobial drugs against Listeria infection

Hep cells grown without and with 2 pyridones

 

Scientists at Umeå Centre for Microbial Research (UCMR) have discovered chemical compounds which are able to attenuate the virulence of the bacterial human pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. Their findings are published today in the high impact journal Cell Chemical Biology.

The dramatic increase of antibiotic resistance makes new antimicrobial strategies necessary. The researchers at Umeå University in Sweden are studying an alternative approach, to inhibit the disease capacity (virulence) of bacteria but not their viability. Compared with traditional antibiotics, which often kill the bacteria, the risk of resistance development in disarmed bacteria is lower, since their survival does not depend on resistance against the new drug.

A Listeria infection can be very severe, particularly among patients such as elderly, infants, immunocompromised or pregnant women. Although disease occurrence is relatively low, Listeria’s severe and sometimes fatal health consequences make it among the most serious foodborne infections, with a mortality of 30%. Listeria is found in unpasteurized dairy products and various ready-to-eat foods, and can grow at refrigeration temperatures. In Sweden, 60-90 people per year get infected and the statistics show that the number of outbreaks is increasing.

The study involved several different Umeå University research groups with diverse specialties: Microbiology, Chemistry and Structural Biology. The group of Jörgen Johansson, professor at the laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS) and the Department of Molecular Biology collaborated with the research groups of Elisabeth Sauer-Eriksson and Fredrik Almqvist, both professors at the Department of Chemistry.

Read more: New compounds discovered as possible candidates for new antimicrobial drugs against Listeria...

Paul Ehrlich- und Ludwig Darmstaedter Preis 2016 for Emmanuelle Charpentier

[2016-01-25] The Paul Ehrlich Foundation at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, announced that Emmanuelle Charpentier will receive the Paul Ehrlich- und Ludwig Darmstaedter-Preis 2016 on Paul Ehrlich's birthday, March 14th, at the St. Paul Church in Frankfurt. The Ehrlich Prize is among the most prestigious awards, which are presented to international scientists in Germany in the field of medicine.

The prize honors scientists who have acquired merits in one of the research fields of Paul Ehrlich especially immunology, cancer research, hematology, microbiology and chemotherapy.

play Press release of the Paul Ehrlich Foundation (in German)

Emmanuelle Charpentier awarded "Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur"

By a presidential decree on December 31, 2015, the French President of the Republic, François Hollande, awarded Emmanuelle Charpentier with the title of "Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur".
The Légion d’Honneur is the highest French decoration and one of the most famous in the world; it is awarded to people who, by their accomplishments, contribute to the progress of France.

Read more: Emmanuelle Charpentier awarded "Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur"

CRISPR - Science's Breakthrough of the Year 2015!

CRISPR fig3 250 Linnea Ljung HolmstromThe visitors of Science's website voted for the favorite from a short list of candidates in the People's Choice poll.

Read about the Runners-up stories, the CRISPR revolution topic page with links to featured publications and related article list.

Listen to the AAAS podcast in which the Science editors discuss the breakthrough and the other nine favorite stories of the year 2015.

Link to the journal Science of 17 December 2015 online

 Illustration of CRISPR-Cas9 by Linnea-Ljung Holmström

Battling antibiotic resistance

movie by Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, with participation of scientists from MIMS and UCMR:
Or watch the original movie on:
https://kaw.wallenberg.org/

footer all slides 2014-02-06


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