Each year 170,000 people around the world die of this type of meningitis, according to the World Health Organization, WHO. Bacterial meningitis, as the disease is called, can even spark epidemics: in Africa 250,000 people were affected in a matter of weeks in the late 1990s. Without treatment, mortality among those who contract the disease is 85-90 percent, with treatment some 10-15 percent. Patients also run a high risk of serious disability after recovery.
Only humans are susceptible to infection from meningococci. In its modeling system Ann-Beth Jonsson’s research team therefore used mice that produce the human receptor that the bacteria bind to. Marking the bacteria to emit light, the scientists used cameras to monitor their activities in the living mice during the course of the disease.
“The bacteria are almost knocked out by the immune defense system, but then they resurge, this time with alterations in the surface protein. What’s more, we discovered that the bacteria aggregate in the thyroid and can impact hormone production during the infection,” says Ann-Beth Jonsson.
The study also shows that bacteria that lack a certain adhesin (the protein that the bacteria cells use to adhere to the receptors) could not attach to mucous linings.
Thanks to the new system the research team has developed, it is now possible to rapidly and effectively monitor the function of various vaccine candidates and new drugs, obviating the numerous costly and time-consuming tests that have been necessary until now. At the same time, the system provides a clear picture of the process of infection.
“With these findings as tools, we can continue to study the course of the disease and test vaccines on living organisms. Moreover we will be able to find new strategies for improving the prognoses for those who are affected by meningococcus disorders,” says Ann-Beth Jonsson.
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
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