Bacteria ‘drunk on coffee’ could pave way for universal disease cures!

Scientists at University of Iowa have identified four different bacteria that can survive by consuming caffeine, one of them being Pseudomonas putida CBB5.

The scientists believe that the discovery could pave the way for converting waste from leftover coffee, tea and even chocolate into useful substances like pharmaceuticals, animal feed or biofuels.

The study found that Pseudomonas putida CBB5 uses four newly discovered digestive proteins to break caffeine down into xanthine and then to carbon dioxide and ammonia.

The protein removes the methyl groups from the molecule (a process called N-demethylation), allowing the bacteria to feed on the nitrogen atoms in the interior of the molecule (xanthine).

This discovery excited the scientists who are now contemplating using the caffeine digestive proteins from CBB5 to convert caffeine into building blocks for drugs to treat asthma, improve blood flow and stabilize heart arrhythmias.

"With one or two methyl groups removed, the remainder of the molecule can be used as the base for a number of pharmaceuticals," said Ryan Summers, UI chemical and biochemical engineering doctoral student.

He also said that the bacterium's digestive proteins could also be used to remove caffeine and related compounds from large amounts of waste generated from coffee and tea processing, which pollute the environment.

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