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New Weapon to Fight Disease-Causing Bacteria, Malaria Developed

Researchers report that they have discovered -- and now know how to exploit -- an unusual chemical reaction mechanism that allows malaria parasites and many disease-causing bacteria to survive. The research team, from the University of Illinois, also has developed the first potent inhibitor of this chemical reaction.

The new study focuses on an essential chemical pathway that occurs in malaria parasites and in most bacteria but not in humans or other animals, making it an ideal drug target. Several teams of researchers have spent nearly a decade trying to understand an important player in this cascade of chemical reactions, an enzyme known as IspH. This enzyme promotes the synthesis of a class of compounds, called isoprenoids, which are essential to life.

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