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article imageResearchers discovers new way Listeria spreads

By Bob Ewing     Sep 21, 2009 in Science
University of Central Florida Microbiology Professor Keith Ireton had found a mechanism that plays a vital role in the spreading of listeria.
The University of Central Florida (UCF) professor and his team found a previously unknown process which helps listeria to move through healthy cells.
The UCF press release states researchers have known for sometime now listeria moves from one human cell to another.
Over the years listeria outbreaks have been connected to food processing plants in the U.S. and Canada.
For example, in 2002 there was a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis: listeriosis is a disease caused by Listeria.
This outbreak was responsible for 46 cases, seven deaths and three stillbirths or miscarriages. The cases were all linked across eight states to people consuming sliced turkey deli meat.
There was another outbreak with 142 cases of listeriosis, between January to August 1985.
The UCF scientists found a second process that had not been previously known. This process moves slowly and overwhelms the second cell’s ability to defend itself from infection. Their results are featured in this week’s edition of the science journal Nature Cell Biology.
The press release quotes Ireton as saying, “The idea that a pathogenic bacterium can spread by controlling membrane tension in the human cell has not been previously described in the scientific literature. Our discovery could have relevance for bacterial pathogens that cause Shigellosis or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, as these bacteria resemble Listeria in their ability to move inside the host cell and spread.”
While more research is necessary, this discovery may assist future therapies and possibly open a window into understanding how certain bacterial pathogens cause disease.
Others who worked on Ireton’s team include Tina Rajabian and Scott D. Gray-Owen at the University of Toronto, Balramakrishna Gavicherla at UCF and Martin Heisig, Stefanie Müller-Altrock and Werner Goebel at the University of Würzburg in Germany.
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