Discovery raises hopes of preventing streptococci infections

phys.org | 9/10/2019 | Staff
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Researchers at the University of Dundee have discovered an enzyme they believe could be key to preventing Group A Streptococcus infections that cause more than 500,000 deaths worldwide each year.

Group A Streptococcus can lead to illnesses such as strep throat, scarlet fever, sepsis and toxic shock syndrome as well as several long-term autoimmune diseases with high mortality rates.

Colleagues - University - Edinburgh - Academy - Sciences

Working with colleagues at the University of Edinburgh and the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Dundee researchers found an enzyme that is required to produce a carbohydrate on the surface of the streptococcal bacterium which enables it to infect humans and animals.

The team, led by Dr. Helge Dorfmueller, is based is based in the Division of Molecular Microbiology at the University's School of Life Sciences. Their research reveals new opportunities to inhibit this enzyme and, ultimately, fight Group A Streptococcus infections. The fact this enzyme works through a novel mechanism of action that can also be found in other streptococcal species increases the impact and relevance of this finding.

Dr - Dorfmueller - Strep - Throat - Group

Dr. Dorfmueller said, "Strep throat is the most common Group A Streptococcus infection and can often be fought by the body's immune system. Unfortunately, the very same bacterium also causes a plethora of severe and potentially fatal illnesses, such as sepsis and toxic shock syndrome.

"We knew that the carbohydrate coating was an essential component of Group A Strep, but we wanted to find out more about how this worked. What we have now shown is that the enzyme initiates the synthesis of the bacterial coating.

Enzyme - Function - Types - Streptococci - Group

"Surprisingly, we also found that this enzyme fulfils the same function in many other types of streptococci. This includes Group B Streptococci, that can cause severe infections in newborns, and Group C and...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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