A drug currently being used to treat ischemic strokes may prove to be a significant advance in the treatment of tuberculosis and ulcers. In a new research report appearing online in The FASEB Journal, a compound called ebselen effectively inhibits the thioredoxin reductase system in a wide variety of bacteria, including Helicobacter pylori which causes gastric ulcers and Mycobacterium tuberculosis which causes tuberculosis. Thioredoxin and thioredoxin reductase proteins are essential for bacteria to make new DNA, and protect them against oxidative stress caused by the immune system. Targeting this system with ebselen, and others compounds like it, represents a new approach toward eradicating these bacteria.
"This new antibacterial principle provides better chances of surviving an infection," said Arne Holmgren, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Division of Biochemistry in the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. "Since ebselen is also an antioxidant, the present mechanism can be described as a 'two for the price of one' antioxidant action in inflammation, and specific targeting of multi-resistant bacterial complications and sepsis."