Researchers are investigating the role that antioxidants -- alpha-lipoic acid and potentially others like green tea and vitamins C and E, for example – might play in preventing or treating the deadly rickettsia bacteria.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, part of the National Institutes of Health, awarded the University of Rochester Medical Center $2 million for a five-year study of the antioxidant theory. The grant caps more than a decade of rickettsia research led by Sanjeev Sahni, Ph.D.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most frequently reported illness in the United States caused by the rickettsia bacteria, which is transmitted by tick parasites. It usually afflicts otherwise healthy adults and children who are bitten by wood ticks or dog ticks. The illness can become life threatening if left untreated, and spotted fever can be difficult for physicians to diagnose because the earliest signs mimic less-serious viral illnesses. Limiting exposure to ticks is the best way to prevent the disease. If it does develop, in most cases doctors can treat it with antibiotics. Typhus is another rickettsial disease spread by lice or fleas. Although less common, typhus remains a threat in crowded jails and in other poor hygienic environments.
"Our studies have the potential to identify novel therapeutic targets for a host of rickettsial diseases," said Sahni, an assistant professor in Hematology/Oncology at the University of Rochester.
Dr. Howard Taylor Ricketts, who eventually died of typhus, identified rickettsia in the late 1800s. Sahni's research group first began investigating the rickettsia bacteria as a model to study the biological changes that occur in the lining of the blood vessels (endothelium) as the bacteria travels through the blood stream. Initially they were looking at what types of cellular changes occur in response to the infection. They discovered that cells undergo oxidative stress and produce harmful free radicals, causing inflammation and other complications.
Researchers hypothesized that antioxidants might serve as useful therapies after examining the damage to infected cells, as seen by electron microscopy, and through biochemical evidence proving oxidative stress (OS), a term used to describe a level of damage in cells, tissue and organs. Antioxidants can generally neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative damage. Earlier experiments in which scientists infected cells with rickettsia bacteria and then treated the cells with alpha-lipoic acid, a powerful antioxidant, showed that the infected cells did, indeed, marshal a defense against the bacteria.
Sahni is also investigating what enzymes might boost antioxidants to work more efficiently. His group is studying the process that occurs when infected cells express cyclooxygenase (Cox-2) and prostaglandins, which results in inflammation. This biological process is what causes the severe swelling in the limb that was bitten by a tick harboring the rickettsia bacteria. Sahni theorizes that regulating the Cox-2 response with Cox-2 inhibitors such as ibuprofen could also help control the disease.
Leslie Orr | EurekAlert!
Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm
24.03.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
What does congenital Zika syndrome look like?
24.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy