Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New findings on killer bacteria’s defence

Date:
December 14, 2012
Source:
Lund University
Summary:
Research from Sweden casts new light on the interaction between the immune system and streptococcus bacteria, which cause both mild tonsillitis and serious infections such as sepsis and necrotising fasciitis. The way in which antibodies attach to the bacteria is linked to how serious the disease is.

New research from Lund University casts new light on the interaction between the immune system and streptococcus bacteria, which cause both mild tonsillitis and serious infections such as sepsis and necrotising fasciitis. The way in which antibodies attach to the bacteria is linked to how serious the disease is.

Related Articles


Antibodies are key to the recognition and neutralisation of bacteria by our immune system. The most common antibodies have the shape of a Y, and the two prongs fasten to molecules that belong to the bacteria. The cells in the immune system recognise the shaft and can then attack the bacteria.

Since the 1960s, it has been known that certain bacteria have developed the ability to turn these antibodies around, which makes it more difficult for the immune system to identify them. These include streptococcus bacteria, sometimes referred to as 'killer bacteria', that cause both common tonsillitis and more serious diseases such as sepsis (blood poisoning) and necrotising fasciitis (flesh-eating disease). Because it has not been possible to study this phenomenon in detail, researchers have until now presumed that antibodies are always turned around in these streptococcal infections.

Now researchers at Lund University have shown that this is not the case. In less serious conditions, such as tonsillitis, the antibodies are back-to-front, but in more serious and life-threatening diseases such as sepsis and necrotising fasciitis, the antibodies are the right way round. These findings have now been published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine and completely alter the understanding of bacterial infections with several of our most common pathogenic bacteria.

"This information is important and fundamental to improving our understanding of streptococcal infections, but our results also show that the principle described could apply to many different types of bacteria," says Pontus Nordenfelt, who is currently conducting research at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

The present study shows that it is the concentration of antibodies in the local environment in the body that controls how the antibodies sit on the surface of the bacteria. In the throat, for example, where the concentration is low, the antibodies sit the wrong way round, but in the blood, where the concentration is high, the antibodies are the right way round. This explains why the most serious infections are so rare in comparison to the common and often mild cases of throat and skin infections. The bacteria in the blood are quite simply easier for the immune system to find.

In the future, the results could have an impact on the treatment of serious infectious diseases, since a better understanding of the mechanisms behind the diseases is needed to develop new treatments.

Lars Björck, Professor of Infectious Medicine at Lund University, has discovered some of the antibody-turning proteins and has studied their structure and function for over 30 years.

"It is fantastic to have been involved in moving a major step closer to understanding the biological and medical importance of these proteins together with talented young colleagues," he says.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. P. Nordenfelt, S. Waldemarson, A. Linder, M. Morgelin, C. Karlsson, J. Malmstrom, L. Bjorck. Antibody orientation at bacterial surfaces is related to invasive infection. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2012; DOI: 10.1084/jem.20120325

Cite This Page:

Lund University. "New findings on killer bacteria’s defence." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121214112639.htm>.
Lund University. (2012, December 14). New findings on killer bacteria’s defence. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121214112639.htm
Lund University. "New findings on killer bacteria’s defence." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121214112639.htm (accessed March 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

AFP (Mar. 25, 2015) — Experts are gathering in Botswana to try to end the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Elephants Help Keep 18-Wheeler From Toppling Over

Elephants Help Keep 18-Wheeler From Toppling Over

Newsy (Mar. 25, 2015) — The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff&apos;s Office discovered two elephants keeping a tractor-trailer that had gotten stuck in some mud upright on a highway. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby 'pet' Orangutan Rescued from Chicken Cage Takes First Steps

Baby 'pet' Orangutan Rescued from Chicken Cage Takes First Steps

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) — Buti, a baby orangutan who was left malnourished in a chicken cage before his rescue, takes his first steps after months of painful physical therapy. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
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

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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