Flesh eating bacteria is an infection that can have dire consequences. A Streptococcus, the most common of the flesh eating diseases, causes death in one third of all people who contract it.
Flesh-eating disease is also called ‘necrotizing myositis’, and this infection occurs in the tissues below the skin, affecting the fat, fascia (coverings of the muscles and tendons) and muscles. The tissues can quickly die because of poor blood supply, which can also lead to death.
Until now, it was not understood how A Streptococcus worked on a molecular level. Scientists wanted to better understand what genes in the genome of the bacteria play a role in the disease.
A new study on the bacteria shows some insight into how the bacteria can thrive in the muscle tissue and cause so much damage.
The study, published on January 22 in the Journal of Clinical investigation, took an in depth look at A Streptococcus and how it survives. Scientists found that the survival of the bacteria was due to special proteins called transporters. These transporters help feed the microbes in muscle tissue and they are essential in taking nutrients in and getting rid of toxins.
Scientists were able to deactivate the bacteria’s genes one by one and found 72 genes that were essential in keeping it alive in necrotizing myositis.
This research can potentially lead to health care providers being able to provide better treatment and prevention for flesh eating disease. The study’s findings showed that the location of the bacteria in the body affects the set of proteins and genes that it uses to thrive. For example, the genes the bacteria would use in someone with strep throat will be different than someone who has an infection in their muscle.
Dr. James Musser, the chairperson of the Department of Pathology & Genomic Medicine says that the research that has been done on flesh eating disease has given scientists a blueprint for understanding what the organism uses to cause this devastating disease.
Findings from this study beg the question of whether creating drugs that stop these transporters has the potential to provide better treatment options for patients with flesh eating disease from A Streptococcus. More research has to be done however to fully understand this idea.
Read original the article here.