Microbial Pathogens

How to make a not-so-painful ulcer

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Science  01 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6196, pp. 527-528
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6196.527-g

Buruli ulcer disease causes extensive skin lesions and can be deadly, but the lesions themselves don't hurt, which can stop patients from seeking the appropriate care. The pathogen Mycobacterium ulcerans causes Buruli ulcers and also alleviates the pain. Although many scientists studying this disease thought the pathogen caused nerve damage that blocked the pain, Marion et al. now show that the mycobacteria produce the mycolactone toxin, which causes analgesia by blocking the function of pain-responsive nerves. The findings could potentially help researchers develop a whole new class of painkillers.

Cell 157, 1565 (2014).

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