Biochemists identify new protein to help treat staph infections

3 September 2014

Two biochemists from Kansas University have identified a family of proteins that could prevent the body from efficiently fighting off serious infections. This finding could potentially help develop better treatments for Staphylococcus aureus, which causes more than 60,000 potentially life-threatening infections each year.

Published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research focused on S. aureus - the main cause of staph infections. Although it is usually harmless, when it penetrates deep tissue it can trigger serious infections. 

Brian Geisbrecht, professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, and Kasra Ramyar, his research associate, found that S. aureus secretes a family of proteins that prevent neutrophil serine proteases from functioning.
 This is relevant as neutrophils - the most common type of white blood cells - help stop serious infections from spreading. They are the first to respond to an infection and, as well as directly attacking pathogens, they trigger the release of other inflammatory immune cells to fight the infection.

Professor Geisbrecht said better understanding in this area could help develop better treatment options, as well as improving current methods.

Posted by Philip Briggs​


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