Carbon monoxide-releasing molecules help to develop a new antibiotic to treat the sexually transmitted infection.
There are concerns that gonorrhoea, which is the second most common sexually transmitted infection in England, is becoming untreatable.
Almost 35,000 cases were reported in England during 2014, with most cases affecting young men and women under the age of 25. The interdisciplinary team, from the University of York’s Departments of Biology and Chemistry, targeted the “engine room” of the bacteria using carbon monoxide-releasing molecules (CO-RMs).
The scientists found that Neisseria gonorrhoeae is more sensitive to CO-based toxicity than other model bacterial pathogens, and may serve as a viable candidate for antimicrobial therapy using CO-RMs.
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The CO molecule works by binding to the bacteria, preventing them from producing energy.
Scientists believe the breakthrough, published in the journal MedChemComm, could pave the way for new treatments.