Researchers Receive NIH Grant To Study Chlamydia Development

Researchers Receive NIH Grant To Study Chlamydia Development

Chlamy­dia is the bane of soci­ety. Young peo­ple afflict­ed with it could suf­fer from infer­til­i­ty and oth­ers life-threat­en­ing health prob­lems. Accord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, there were 1.7 mil­lion cas­es report­ed in 2017, mak­ing it the most sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted dis­ease of all.

The worst part is that there are still many peo­ple who don’t know they have the dis­ease, leav­ing to spread the bac­te­ria unknowingly.

Although drug treat­ment is on hand, the CDC rein­fec­tion is not unheard of and sug­gests doc­tors retest patients after treat­ment. Due to the wide­spread prob­lem, the research com­mu­ni­ty to active­ly look­ing for oth­er treat­ment ideas and vaccines.

Although the Chlamy­dia tra­choma­tis bac­te­ria is tough, it’s still unable to sur­vive on its own. It must attach itself to a healthy cell, manip­u­lat­ing it to live. A cou­ple of South­ern Illi­nois Uni­ver­si­ty Car­bon­dale researchers are look­ing at how chlamy­dia lives inside its host cells.

Chem­istry and Bio­chem­istry asso­ciate pro­fes­sor Kyle Plun­kett and Micro­bi­ol­o­gy asso­ciate pro­fes­sor Derek Fish­er got togeth­er and attained a $ 442,000-second fund Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health grant for research to con­tin­ue. Alto­geth­er, the researchers have received $860,000 in grant month.

Both researchers, as well as under­grad­u­ate and grad­u­ate stu­dent researchers, have looked at a par­tic­u­lar enzyme that flags pro­teins by attach­ing a phos­phate mol­e­cule to them. They’re also look­ing at the enzyme that sends the mol­e­cule on its way. This process is known as phos­pho­ry­la­tion and could help in the devel­op­ment of new drugs or vac­cines to treat or pre­vent the disease.

The researchers’ goal is to devel­op a chem­i­cal way in which to hin­der the process. They are first observ­ing the bac­te­ria and how it infects a healthy cell, then how it can repli­cate itself and, final­ly, how it changes from the two forms.

The infec­tion type of chlamy­dia (called the ele­men­tary body), the bac­te­ria comes into con­tact with epithe­lial cells and uses its syringe-like part to get into the cell mem­brane so that it can give cells spe­cial pro­teins. The pro­teins allow the bac­te­ria to con­sume the cell and enve­lope with anoth­er mem­brane struc­ture known as an inclusion.

After the bac­te­ria gets inside, it changes into a retic­u­late body and repro­duces until the cell rup­tures and move onto oth­er cells, chang­ing back to its orig­i­nal process where it begins again.

Fish­er said researchers still don’t under­stand how the bacteria’s infec­tious form knows when it needs to invade the cells and know when it’s time to change form. It’s assumed that it receives sig­nals but the mechan­ics of it is unknown.

The researchers are going to look at how phos­pho­ry­la­tion plays a part in the chlamy­di­al growth and devel­op­ment. Fish­er said they hypoth­e­size that the process has a hand in the chlamy­di­al reg­u­la­to­ry process, telling and help­ing it to car­ry out its job.

The study will look at the one pro­tein phos­phatase and three pro­tein kinas­es, which were not­ed as being worth­while research avenues in the first fund­ing round. The Pkn5 is regard­ed as the most inter­est­ing as it’s the kind the bac­te­ria inject­ed into a host cell using the syringe-like projection.

Plun­kett will look at the syn­the­sis of new mol­e­cules to can hin­der the pro­tein phos­phatase called CppA and how it hin­ders its part. He is alter­ing the mol­e­cules’ mol­e­c­u­lar struc­ture researchers have not­ed hin­der CppA to bet­ter the effectiveness.

The NIH grant mon­ey will be used to pay for addi­tion­al grad­u­ate stu­dent, two under­grad stu­dent research assis­tants for three years, con­fer­ence atten­dance, lab con­sum­ables and pub­li­ca­tions for shar­ing results.


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