Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How Superbugs Control Their Lethal Weapons

Date:
May 27, 2009
Source:
University of Western Ontario
Summary:
It appears some superbugs have evolved to develop the ability to manipulate the immune system to everyone's advantage. Scientists have discovered some processes that reduce the lethal effects of toxins from superbugs, allowing humans and microbes to co-evolve. This discovery may lead to novel alternatives to antibiotics.

It appears that some superbugs have evolved to develop the ability to manipulate the immune system to everyone's advantage.

A team of researchers at The University of Western Ontario, led by Joaquin (Quim) Madrenas of the Robarts Research Institute, has discovered some processes that reduce the lethal effects of toxins from superbugs, allowing humans and microbes to co-evolve. This discovery may lead to novel alternatives to antibiotics that specifically target the toxic effects of these superbugs.

Madrenas holds a Canada Research Chair in Immunobiology and is a Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, and Medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western. He also is head of Immunology at Robarts Research Institute and Director of the FOCIS Centre for Clinical Immunology and Immunotherapeutics.

Staphylococcus (staph) aureus is the leading cause of infections in hospitals and the second most common cause of infections in the general population. By itself, it is linked to more than half a million hospital admissions a year in North America with estimated costs of more than $6 billion per year. Among the many weapons produced by this superbug, the most potent and lethal ones are known as superantigens. These lethal weapons cause massive and harmful activation of the immune system that leads to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). TSS is a very serious disease that carries a high mortality, for which we do not have a specific treatment.

Scientists have been puzzled as to why, when the body is directly exposed to the TSS toxins, a human can die within hours whereas individuals may carry toxin-producing staph and not get sick or die.

What has the staph bug got that prevents the immune system of the host from being kicked into high gear? Madrenas and his collaborators at Western, Calgary and Chicago have identified the process that allows the bug to stay in the body without causing that massive activation of the immune system.

The secret lies in molecules found in the cell wall of staph. These molecules bind to receptors known as TLR2 on immune cells of the host triggering the production of a protein called IL-10, an anti-inflammatory molecule that will prevent TSS.

"It is clear that staph superbugs have developed strategies to control the toxicity of its lethal superantigen toxins, thereby preventing TSS. We believe that this is an important mechanism that warrants continued investigation. It also illustrates that evolution may operate not only by competition but also by networking ultimately leading to peaceful co-existence" says Madrenas.

Based on these studies, Madrenas and colleagues have developed a computer model that will help predict the outcomes of encounters between staph and a host, and will reveal new aspects of these encounters.

The multidisciplinary team led by Madrenas includes David Heinrichs, Ewa Cairns, Mansour Haeryfar, and John McCormick of the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology, and Medicine at The University of Western Ontario, as well as Paul Kubes from the University of Calgary and Gary An from Northwestern University in Chicago.

The findings are being published in the journal Nature Medicine and are available online May 24, 2009. The research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Kidney Foundation of Canada.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Western Ontario. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Western Ontario. "How Superbugs Control Their Lethal Weapons." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090524170653.htm>.
University of Western Ontario. (2009, May 27). How Superbugs Control Their Lethal Weapons. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090524170653.htm
University of Western Ontario. "How Superbugs Control Their Lethal Weapons." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090524170653.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) New findings suggest men with a certain type of baldness at age 45 are 39 percent more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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