JAN 31, 2016 2:42 PM PST

Putting a Stop to Group A Streptococcus

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Evans
Researchers at the University of Notre Dame identified the mechanism by which Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as Group A Streptococcus (GAS), destroys red blood cells.

GAS infects nearly 700 million people a year worldwide, and nearly half a million die from the infection. People are usually infected by skin-to-skin contact, with the the most common types of infection being strep throat, cellulitis, and impetigo.  More severe infections cause toxic shock syndrome and necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease!).
 
Group A Streptococcus infects nearly 700 million people annually.

Once you’re infected with GAS, the bacteria sometimes make it into the bloodstream where they can lyse red blood cells with a peptide called Streptolysin S (SLS).  This is great for the bacteria (who love snacking on red blood cells), but bad for you.  Lucky for you, however, we now understand how SLS lyses red blood cells, making it possible to treat this aspect of GAS infection.

According to study author Shaun Lee, “we demonstrate that the long-observed red blood cell hemolysis by SLS is not caused by general destruction of the red blood cell membrane, as has been previously thought, but rather that the action is due to the ability of the SLS toxin to directly target a specific outer membrane protein on the surface of the red blood cell, the major erythrocyte anion exchange protein Band 3”.

The researchers also managed to block hemolysis by inhibiting the function of Band 3.  “By blocking the action of SLS toxin during a GAS infection, the pathology at the site of the infection could be drastically reduced”, says Lee, “these findings have tremendous potential for developing novel therapeutics to treat severe diseases caused by Group A Streptococcus”.
 

Sources: Science Daily, Wikipedia

 
 
About the Author
  • Kerry received a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
You May Also Like
FEB 28, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
How a Slime Mold with no Brain Can Remember Things
FEB 28, 2021
How a Slime Mold with no Brain Can Remember Things
Our past experiences help us navigate future obstacles, and it seems that even organisms without a brain have that skill ...
MAR 02, 2021
Coronavirus
Vitamin B6 May Reduce the Risk of Severe COVID-19
MAR 02, 2021
Vitamin B6 May Reduce the Risk of Severe COVID-19
Scientists are trying to learn more about whether any nutrients, like vitamins C, D, and now B6, can provide some protec ...
MAR 10, 2021
Microbiology
Gut Microbes Could be a Way to Treat Some Neurological Disorders
MAR 10, 2021
Gut Microbes Could be a Way to Treat Some Neurological Disorders
Researchers and clinicians have often studied genes that affect the function and development of the brain to explain neu ...
MAR 16, 2021
Immunology
What Happens When Your Immune System Forgets
MAR 16, 2021
What Happens When Your Immune System Forgets
One of the most remarkable features of the immune system is its ability to “remember” past encounters with p ...
MAR 17, 2021
Microbiology
Novel Bacteria Discovered on Space Station
MAR 17, 2021
Novel Bacteria Discovered on Space Station
Scientists have known that wherever humans go, we carry microorganisms with us, and the International Space Station is n ...
APR 02, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Anti-Parasitic Medication Could Be Therapy for COVID19
APR 02, 2021
Anti-Parasitic Medication Could Be Therapy for COVID19
What are tropical and neglected diseases? Chronic infections that plague developing nations with often little financial ...
Loading Comments...