Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene Discovery Paves Way For Preventing Deadly Bacterial Shock

Date:
December 14, 1998
Source:
University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas
Summary:
Identification of a gene that normally prevents endotoxic shock - which causes at least 20,000 deaths a year in the United States and possibly one million worldwide - was reported by UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas researchers in the Dec. 11 issue of Science.

DALLAS - December 11, 1998 - Identification of a gene that normally prevents endotoxic shock - which causes at least 20,000 deaths a year in the United States and possibly one million worldwide - was reported by UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas researchers in today's issue of Science.

Related Articles


Mutations of the "toll-like receptor-4" (Tlr4) gene in mice, and presumably in humans, create susceptibility to overwhelming infections caused by bacteria such as Salmonella. Endotoxic shock can occur when bacterial invasions become severe and systemic. Discovery of the gene may enable creation of a test to screen for people with Tlr4 genetic defects. Doctors could then use antibiotics to prevent the acceleration of infection.

"The knowledge that these mutations make mice highly susceptible to certain bacterial infections puts us in a position to identify comparable mutations in people to determine if they also are predisposed to these diseases," said Dr. Bruce Beutler, professor of internal medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator and lead researcher on the study. "If so, we could protect susceptible individuals with antibiotics, eliminating some and perhaps most cases of endotoxic shock before they begin."

Tlr4 is necessary for cells to respond to endotoxin, a substance made by bacteria that is among the most potent activators of the body's defense against infections. Its cloning culminated a five-year effort in which the scientists mapped a minute region of the mouse genome, identified every gene in the region, and then pinpointed Tlr4. The project was intensely competitive with several groups of scientists from industry and academia racing to find this important gene.

"Endotoxin does not directly harm most cells of the body, but it triggers release of chemical weapons against infection," Beutler said. "At an early stage of an infection, these weapons, including tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin-1 (IL-1), alert the immune system, mobilizing a defensive response.

"If the early-warning system fails, the infection continues to spread throughout the body. This can result in massive overproduction of TNF and IL-1," Beutler said. "This deluge of chemical weapons can cause shock."

Discovery of the gene which is vital in activating the early-warning system is especially significant because it advances researchers' understanding of how the immune system detects endotoxin.

"We have proven that a single gene is essential for sensing endotoxin, and we have identified the protein this gene encodes," he said. "This knowledge might lead to effective methods to block the endotoxin signal, thereby preventing the worst complications of certain infections."

The other researchers involved in the study were: Dr. Alexander Poltorak, internal medicine postdoctoral fellow; Drs. Irina Smirnova, Xiaolong He and Chrisophe Van Huffel, HHMI postdoctoral fellows; Dr. Mu-Ya Liu, a postdoctoral fellow in pharmacology; Dale Birdwell, Erica Alejos and Maria Silva, HHMI research technicians; and researchers at the Max-Planck Institute fur Immunobiologie, Freiburg, Germany, and the Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology Center, Milan, Italy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas. "Gene Discovery Paves Way For Preventing Deadly Bacterial Shock." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981214075235.htm>.
University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas. (1998, December 14). Gene Discovery Paves Way For Preventing Deadly Bacterial Shock. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981214075235.htm
University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas. "Gene Discovery Paves Way For Preventing Deadly Bacterial Shock." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981214075235.htm (accessed November 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The MelaFind device is a pain-free way to check suspicious moles for melanoma, without the need for a biopsy. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battling Multiple Myeloma

Battling Multiple Myeloma

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The answer isn’t always found in new drugs – repurposing an ‘old’ drug that could mean better multiple myeloma treatment, and hope. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) New information that is linking chronic inflammation in the prostate and prostate cancer, which may help doctors and patients prevent cancer in the future. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) Blood transfusions are proving crucial to young sickle cell patients by helping prevent strokes, even when there is no outward sign of brain injury. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins