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Scientists develop a technique to detect a streptococcus passed from mother to foetus during delivery

Micro-organism Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus transmitted vertically from mother to foetus) and the Universidad de Granada have been closely linked from more than twenty years.

In the nineties, a research group of the University Hospital Virgen de las Nieves gave rise to Granada Medium (a technique to detect the presence of the streptococcus in the mother). Recently, the same group, in collaboration with the departments of Microbiology and Organic Chemistry and the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Service of the University of Granada [], have isolated and identified the pigment that colours this micro-organism to detect its presence.

Perinatal infection by Streptococcus agalactiae affects approximately three of every 1,000 newborns alive, with a mortality rate of 50 per cent in the seventies which has reduced to 4-5 per cent due to the advances in neonatology. This micro-organism provokes in the newborn diseases such as septicaemia, pneumonia or meningitis, and the transmission from mother to foetus takes place during delivery or water breaking.

American scientists proved more than 20 years ago that the intravenous administration of antibiotics started at least fours hours before delivery is a good strategy to avoid early neonatal infection. For this reason, it was necessary to determine previously if the micro-organism was or not present in the mother’s body. To this aim, the researchers from Granada devised a very simple technique, applied in health centres and known as Medio Granada. This system, unique in the world, is currently manufactured in Spain (by the Biomedics company, in Madrid), Germany (Becton Dickinson) and the USA (Hardy, Diagnostics).

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Streptococcus detection

The other great achievement of the scientists of the UGR [] related to the Streptococcus agalactiae has provisionally been called Granadaeno, a new red pigment which, applied in the Medio Granada, colours the streptococcus if it is present in the mother’s organism.

The molecular structure of the Granadaeno has been solved by a research group made up by members of the UGR departments of Microbiology (professor Alfonso Ruiz-Bravo López) and Organic Chemistry (professor Juan Manuel Cuerva Carvajal), and the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Services (doctor Alí Haidour Benami) and Microbiology (directed by doctor Manuel de la Rosa Fraile) of the University Hospital Virgen de las Nieves.

In order to detect the carriers of Streptococcus agalactiae, the scientists advise to carry out a vaginal and rectal culture to all the pregnant women in the 35-37 weeks of pregnancy, preferably in the week 36, if there is a there is suspicion of chorioamnionitis.

Antonio Marín Ruiz | alfa
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