Bacteria produce volatile hydrocarbons, a protein essential for Chikungunya virus replication, and a new vaccine technology that shows promise against Chikungunya

By 27th September 2019 February 10th, 2020 No Comments

Researchers from the CEA, the CNRS and the Institut de Biosciences et Biotechnologies at Aix-Marseille University have genetically modified the E.Coli bacterium so that it continuously produces volatile hydrocarbons through a photochemical reaction. These hydrocarbons are similar to those found in gasoline and kerosene and can easily be captured in their pure form in the gas phase of the bacterial cultures. The process therefore does away with the costs associated with harvesting, product extraction and refining of microorganism cultures. The results are detailed in Scientific Reports.

culture eColi 2

© S. Moulin et B. Legeret/CEA

Chikungunya is an infectious disease caused by a mosquito-borne virus transmitted to humans. First detected in Africa, the virus has caused the recent epidemics in the Americas, Asia and the Indian Ocean – particularly the Reunion Island. Chikungunya is characterized by high fever and intense joint and muscle pain that can last for several months. Researchers still do not understand the mechanisms by which the virus infects human cells, but a team by Ali Amara in collaboration with Marc Lecuit from Inserm, the Institut Pasteur, CNRS and the Université de Paris say they have now identified a protein that plays a crucial role in virus replication within its target cells. This research, published in Nature, could lead to the development of new therapies in the fight against chikungunya.

insert virus protein

© Inserm/Thérèse Couderc/Marie-Christine Prévost/Marc Lecuit

Staying with Chikungunya, researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Grenoble, together with Oracle have teamed up to find a way to make vaccines that are thermostable and can be designed quickly. They have developed a new type of vaccine for the mosquito-borne virus Chikungunya that can be stored at warmer temperatures, removing the need for refrigeration. The technique makes use of a synthetic protein scaffold that could revolutionise the way vaccines are designed, produced and stored. The work is reported in Science Advances.


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Credit: University of Bristol