Production of an Exceptionally Large Surface Protein Prevents Bacteria From Forming Clumps and Reduces Their Ability to Cause Disease
A genetic mechanism that controls the production of a large spike-like protein on the surface of Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria alters the ability of the bacteria to form clumps and to cause disease, according to a new University of Iowa study. The new study is the first to link this genetic mechanism to the production of the giant surface protein and to clumping behavior in bacteria. It is also the first time that clumping behavior has been associated with endocarditis, a serious infection of heart valves that kills 20,000 Americans each year. The findings were published in the journal PLOS Pathogens. "Our study suggests that clumping could be a target for therapy," says Horswill. "If we could find drugs that block clumping, I think they would be potentially really useful for blocking staph infections." Continue Reading
Could Infections Harm Memory in Older Adults?
Exposure to several types of common infections could be associated with memory problems, a new study suggests. The authors caution, however, that further research is needed to draw concrete conclusions. Scientists from the University of Miami and Columbia University in New York City were scheduled to present their research at an American Stroke Association meeting in San Diego. Continue Reading
Could Statins Be Used to Fight a Deadly Viral Infection?
Two Perelman School of Medicine microbiologists may have found a way to use statins, the well-known blockbuster cholesterol-lowering drugs, to fight the hantavirus, a mysterious and lethal microorganism that appeared suddenly in the US southwest over 20 years ago. That first outbreak led to the deaths of more than a dozen people, most of them in their prime. The last reported outbreak happened in Yellowstone Park in 2012. A PLOS Pathogens paper by Penn microbiologists Paul Bates, PhD, and Kenneth Briley, PhD, published reports that four proteins key to cholesterol synthesis and uptake are highjacked by the hantavirus to enter human host cells.Continue Reading