Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Breakthrough could lead to protection from fatal infections

Date:
December 13, 2013
Source:
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Summary:
Researchers have found a way to protect against what can be a fatal rickettsial infection.

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have discovered a way to block a disease pathway that could be a breakthrough in defeating some of the world's most devastating human infections.

Related Articles


Rickettsioses are a group of insect-borne diseases caused by bacteria. One type, typhus fever, has been cited as a high-level threat by the National Institutes of Health because the bacteria can spread and multiply very easily, and the untreated infection can lead to death.

What researchers at UTMB have found is a way to protect against what can be a fatal rickettsial infection. Their findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Even more exciting, there is preliminary evidence that the experimental drug we have identified as being effective against rickettsiae may also be effective against viruses," said Dr. David Walker, chairman of the department of pathology at UTMB and executive director for the Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Many scientists are concerned that temperature increases due to global climate change will lead to more widespread cases of rickettsioses, since the bacteria are spread by ticks, lice, fleas and chiggers that thrive in warmer climates. In addition, because the bacteria are easily transmitted, they could pose a bioterrorism threat, Walker said.

The diseases, which include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, can lead to death. In fact, a fatality rate as high as 32 percent has been reported in hospitalized patients with Mediterranean spotted fever.

"We believe that it is imperative that we find a way to control this disease," Walker said.

In their study at UTMB, scientists know signals to cells can be controlled by a molecular messenger known as cyclic AMP, which plays crucial roles in the development of many human diseases, including those caused by bacteria and viruses.

In humans and animals, the effects of this messenger are controlled by two types of receptors, one known as protein kinase A, or PKA, and a newly identified protein known as Epac. PKA and Epac can act in concert or in opposition to control many cell functions.

Two leading scientists of this multidisciplinary, cutting-edge research collaboration at UTMB, Dr. Bin Gong and Dr. Xiaodong Cheng, used mice in which the gene for the Epac receptor was inactivated. They found that mice infected with deadly Rickettsia bacteria are resistant to fatal infection.

The mechanism by which this happens is being identified, and now a new candidate drug that inhibits Epac, known as ESI for Epac-specific inhibitor, has also been shown to protect normal mice from a fatal rickettsial infection. The researchers are currently designing a second-generation ESI that is more potent and is not toxic even at high doses. There are also indications from preliminary experiments that ESI protects animals against some lethal viral infections.

"This is an exciting development, given that our arsenal of treatments for these bacteria is quite limited," Walker said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. B. Gong, T. Shelite, F. C. Mei, T. Ha, Y. Hu, G. Xu, Q. Chang, M. Wakamiya, T. G. Ksiazek, P. J. Boor, D. H. Bouyer, V. L. Popov, J. Chen, D. H. Walker, X. Cheng. Exchange protein directly activated by cAMP plays a critical role in bacterial invasion during fatal rickettsioses. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; 110 (48): 19615 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1314400110

Cite This Page:

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Breakthrough could lead to protection from fatal infections." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131213135510.htm>.
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. (2013, December 13). Breakthrough could lead to protection from fatal infections. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131213135510.htm
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Breakthrough could lead to protection from fatal infections." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131213135510.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bupa Eyes India Healthcare Opportunities

Bupa Eyes India Healthcare Opportunities

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) Bupa is hoping to expand in India&apos;s fast-growing health insurance market, once a rule change on foreign investment is implemented. The British private healthcare group&apos;s CEO tells Grace Pascoe why it&apos;s so keen on the new opportunity. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in Your Pocket Is Getting Smarter

Doctor in Your Pocket Is Getting Smarter

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) Mobile apps are turning smartphones into a personal doctors, with users able to measure heart rate, blood pressure and even blood sugar. But will it change our behaviour? Ivor Bennett reports from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AbbVie Inks $21B Deal To Buy Cancer Drugmaker Pharmacyclics

AbbVie Inks $21B Deal To Buy Cancer Drugmaker Pharmacyclics

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) AbbVie announced Wednesday it will buy cancer drugmaker Pharmacyclics in a $21 billion deal. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Toddlers Drinking Coffee? Why You Shouldn't Share Your Joe

Toddlers Drinking Coffee? Why You Shouldn't Share Your Joe

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) A survey of Boston mothers and toddlers found that 15 percent of two-year-olds drink coffee and 2.5 percent of 1-year-olds. 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:

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