Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have discovered that so-called flesh-eating "Strep" bacteria use a specific enzyme to break free of the bodys immune system, a finding which could potentially lead to new treatments for serious infections in human patients.
The research, reported in the February 21, 2006 issue of the journal Current Biology, focuses on the major human pathogen group A Streptococcus. Among the most important of all bacterial pathogens, strep is responsible for a wide range of diseases – from simple throat and skin infections to life-threatening conditions such as necrotizing fasciitis ("flesh-eating disease") and toxic shock syndrome.
"These findings suggest a novel approach to treating serious Strep infections, such as flesh-eating disease, by assisting our bodys own defense system," said senior author Victor Nizet, M.D., UCSD associate professor of pediatrics and an infectious diseases physician at Childrens Hospital, San Diego.
Debra Kain | EurekAlert!
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