Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists discover new properties of microbes that cause common eye infection

12.11.2014

Scientists from Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology have used the power of new genomic technology to discover that microbes that commonly infect the eye have special, previously unknown properties. These properties are predicted to allow the bacterium -- Streptococcus pneumoniae -- to specifically stick to the surface of the eye, grow, and cause damage and inflammation.

Researchers are now using this information to develop new ways to treat and prevent this bacterium, which is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. Their findings are in the current issue of Nature Communications.

S. pneumoniae is a leading cause of infection and is responsible for diseases ranging from infection of the lungs, pneumonia, to infection of the brain, to infection of the surface of the eye known as conjunctivitis. Although infection of the eye can usually be safely treated, S. pneumoniae infection is a leading cause of illness and death worldwide.

According to Mass. Eye and Ear researcher Michael S. Gilmore, Sir William Osler Professor of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, an effective vaccine is available that helps prevent many of the most severe types of infection. "I believe it is especially important for children and the elderly to be vaccinated. The vaccine causes the body to react to a slimy coating on the bacterial surface called a "capsule." The capsule allows S. pneumoniae to escape from white blood cells that try to eliminate it, and S. pneumoniae goes on to cause lung and other infections."

However, the strains of S. pneumoniae that cause eye infection have been known to lack this capsule, yet they still cause infection. "Because they lack the capsule, they are not affected by the vaccine either," he continued.

To design a better vaccine, and to understand how these "unencapsulated" strains of S. pneumoniae are still able to cause infection of the ocular surface, the research team, spearheaded by postdoctoral researcher Michael Valentino and including Mass. Eye and Ear scientists Wolfgang Haas and Paulo Bispo, as well as a collaborative team from the Broad Institute of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and elsewhere, examined the genomes of a large collection of S. pneumoniae strains collected from across the United States.

"We found that about 90 percent of the conjunctivitis strains were very closely related and formed a new group of S. pneumoniae with infectious properties that were different from any other known strains," Dr. Gilmore said. "These new properties are believed to allow S. pneumoniae to resist the normal clearance mechanisms of the surface of the eye, including blinking and tears, stick to the eye surface, grow there and cause damage."

Dr. Gilmore believes that including some of the S. pneumoniae proteins that allow the bacterium to do this in a new type of vaccine, might lead to the prevention of nearly 90 percent of the cases of conjunctivitis caused by this microbe and save the use of antibiotics for more severe infections.

The paper, entitled "Unencapsulated Streptococcus pneumoniae from conjunctivitis encode variant traits and belong to a distinct phylogenetic cluster," appears in the Nov. 13 issue of issue of the prestigious international science journal, Nature Communications.

Portions of this project were supported by NIH grants EY024285, Molecular Basis for Ocular Surface Tropism in Conjunctivitis and by the Harvard-wide Program on Antibiotic Resistance, AI083214. HHSN272200900018C supported the involvement of A.M.M. Additional support for this project was obtained from the ALSAC organization of St Jude Children's Research Hospital (J.W.R., C.B., R.A.C. and E.I.T.). In addition, portions of this project were supported by Bausch and Lomb Inc. (C.M.S., W.H., T.W.M. and M.S.G.). M.D.V. was supported in part by NIH fellowship through EY007145.

About Massachusetts Eye and Ear

Massachusetts Eye and Ear clinicians and scientists are driven by a mission to find cures for blindness, deafness and diseases of the head and neck. Led by the Howe Laboratory in Ophthalmology, Schepens Eye Research Institute, and the Eaton-Peabody Laboratory in Otology, Mass. Eye and Ear in Boston is the world's largest vision and hearing research center, offering hope and healing to patients everywhere through discovery and innovation.

Mass. Eye and Ear is a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital that trains future medical leaders in ophthalmology and otolaryngology, through residency as well as clinical and research fellowships. Internationally acclaimed since its founding in 1824, Mass. Eye and Ear employs full-time, board-certified physicians who offer high-quality and affordable specialty care that ranges from the routine to the very complex. U.S. News & World Report's "Best Hospitals Survey" has consistently ranked the Mass. Eye and Ear Departments of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology as among the best in the nation.

Mary Leach | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.meei.harvard.edu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Correct antibiotic dosing could preserve lung microbial diversity in cystic fibrosis
22.02.2019 | Children's National Health System

nachricht Researchers find trigger that turns strep infections into flesh-eating disease
19.02.2019 | Houston Methodist

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: (Re)solving the jet/cocoon riddle of a gravitational wave event

An international research team including astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has combined radio telescopes from five continents to prove the existence of a narrow stream of material, a so-called jet, emerging from the only gravitational wave event involving two neutron stars observed so far. With its high sensitivity and excellent performance, the 100-m radio telescope in Effelsberg played an important role in the observations.

In August 2017, two neutron stars were observed colliding, producing gravitational waves that were detected by the American LIGO and European Virgo detectors....

Im Focus: Light from a roll – hybrid OLED creates innovative and functional luminous surfaces

Up to now, OLEDs have been used exclusively as a novel lighting technology for use in luminaires and lamps. However, flexible organic technology can offer much more: as an active lighting surface, it can be combined with a wide variety of materials, not just to modify but to revolutionize the functionality and design of countless existing products. To exemplify this, the Fraunhofer FEP together with the company EMDE development of light GmbH will be presenting hybrid flexible OLEDs integrated into textile designs within the EU-funded project PI-SCALE for the first time at LOPEC (March 19-21, 2019 in Munich, Germany) as examples of some of the many possible applications.

The Fraunhofer FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, has long been involved in the development of...

Im Focus: Regensburg physicists watch electron transfer in a single molecule

For the first time, an international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has recorded the orbitals of single molecules in different charge states in a novel type of microscopy. The research findings are published under the title “Mapping orbital changes upon electron transfer with tunneling microscopy on insulators” in the prestigious journal “Nature”.

The building blocks of matter surrounding us are atoms and molecules. The properties of that matter, however, are often not set by these building blocks...

Im Focus: University of Konstanz gains new insights into the recent development of the human immune system

Scientists at the University of Konstanz identify fierce competition between the human immune system and bacterial pathogens

Cell biologists from the University of Konstanz shed light on a recent evolutionary process in the human immune system and publish their findings in the...

Im Focus: Transformation through Light

Laser physicists have taken snapshots of carbon molecules C₆₀ showing how they transform in intense infrared light

When carbon molecules C₆₀ are exposed to an intense infrared light, they change their ball-like structure to a more elongated version. This has now been...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Global Legal Hackathon at HAW Hamburg

11.02.2019 | Event News

The world of quantum chemistry meets in Heidelberg

30.01.2019 | Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

JILA researchers make coldest quantum gas of molecules

22.02.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Understanding high efficiency of deep ultraviolet LEDs

22.02.2019 | Materials Sciences

Russian scientists show changes in the erythrocyte nanostructure under stress

22.02.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>