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Researchers find a novel vaccination and new treatment for gonorrhea.

 A protein that fuels the virulence of the bacteria that causes gonorrhea has been discovered by researchers, providing a potential new target for antibiotics and, even better, a vaccine.

The findings, which were released on Friday in PLOS Pathogens with a copy sent to the Ghana News Agency, are particularly significant because Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the microbe that causes gonorrhea, is regarded as a "superbug" because it is resistant to all classes of antibiotics used to treat infections.

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted disease that affects 78 million people globally each year and can be seriously harmful if left untreated or treated incorrectly.

It may result in endometritis, epididymitis, ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, and infertility. Babies born to mothers who are sick have a higher risk of being blind.

Aleksandra Sikora, a researcher at Oregon State University, stated that infections "very often are asymptomatic."

Up to 50% of infected women do not exhibit symptoms, yet even these cases might have serious effects on the patient's reproductive health, including miscarriage or premature birth.

A vaccination and improved antibiotic therapy are urgently needed. Failures in treatment are occurring due to the emergence of N. gonorrhoeae strains that are resistant to the most recent effective treatments.

The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, and the OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy, led by Dr. Sikora and her research team, worked together to identify a novel lipoprotein that N. gonorrhoeae uses to circumvent the body's first line of innate immune defense.

According to the article, the body depends on lysozymes, which are enzymes that prevent bacteria by forcing their cell walls to lyse, or break apart.

Epithelial cells, which make up the tissue lining the inside of bodily cavities and the outside of organs, and phagocytic cells, which defend the body by consuming bacteria and foreign particles, both contain large amounts of lysozymes.

In response, many gram-negative bacteria have evolved strategies to resist lysozymes. Gram-negative bacteria are distinguished by their cell envelope, which includes a protective outer membrane. However, there has only been one lysozyme-fighting protein identified in the Neisseria genus up until the work by Dr. Sikora's team.

As soon as new targets were found, they could be investigated as potential targets for new antibiotics or a vaccine. If the lysozyme inhibitor could be inhibited, the bacteria's capacity to cause infections would be significantly diminished.

The new protein was given the moniker SliC, which stands for surface-exposed lysozyme inhibitor of c-type lysozyme, by Dr. Sikora and her research partners.

The anti-lysozyme function of SliC led researchers to conclude that the protein was crucial for bacterial colonization. They studied SliC's function in culture and in a gonorrhoea mouse model, in which mice were infected with N. gonorrhoeae and then checked for SliC expression at one, three, and five days.

This is the first time a lysozyme inhibitor's function in gonorrhoea infection has been shown using an animal model, according to Dr. Sikora.

"All of our experiments together demonstrate the significance of the lysozyme inhibitor. This is a lot of fun.


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