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New study shows promise against typhoid-causing bacteria

Bacteria like salmonellae possess an infection apparatus which is a nearly unbeatable weapon. They usually infect their host cells by hollow-needle-shaped structures, which they create in large numbers during an attack.

Now, a group of Vienna-based scientists, headed by Thomas Marlovits, has developed a high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy to clarify the structure of this infection apparatus on the near-atomic scale.

They said that the exact knowledge of the needles' building plan may help to develop compounds that interfere with its function, and thus combat not only salmonellae but also other pathogens that employ this system, such as pathogens that cause cholera, plague or typhoid.

'Austria's coolest microscope' makes it possible to shock-freeze biological samples at minus 196 degrees centigrade and view them in almost unchanged condition.

However, when 'zooming in' on their object, scientists are confronted with a treacherous problem - the high-energy electron beam falls at such high concentrations on the sample that the latter is destroyed after the very first image.
 
 

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