The mechanism used by the bacteria that cause anthrax, bubonic plague and typhoid fever to avoid detection and destruction by the body’s normal immune response – leading to life-threatening bacterial infections – has been identified by researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine.
Published in the March 18, 2004 issue of the journal Nature, the lab-culture research with mouse cells identifies a protein kinase called PKR that causes the death of macrophages, the large white blood cells that act as the body’s first defense against pathogens. Without macrophages to detect, engulf and stop the invading bacteria, the infection goes unnoticed by the immune system and spreads.
“If we are able to develop specific inhibitors for PKR, and the drug industry can easily produce them, we may be able to control these nasty infections,” said the study’s senior author, Michael Karin, Ph.D., UCSD professor of pharmacology and an American Cancer Society Research Professor.
Sue Pondrom | UCSD
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