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UCSD Researchers Discover Why Invasive Strep Infections Can Be So Devastating


Aired 4/19/09

Strep bacteria can cause a wide range of infections, including the potentially deadly condition known as flesh-eating disease. U-C-S-D researchers have discovered why the most virulent form of strep can be so devastating. KPBS Reporter Kenny Goldberg has more.


The most invasive forms of strep can quickly destroy flesh and muscle.


Dr. Victor Nizet is a professor of pediatrics and pharmacy at U-C-S-D. He says it turns out strep bacteria provide a molecule that breaks up a key component of our immune system.  


Dr. Victor Nizet: The pathogen, by degrading this key signal in our body, confuses our white blood cells, so they have difficulty getting to the site of infection.


And Nizet says even when the white blood cells encounter the bacteria, they don't activate and kill them like they should.


Nizet says his findings suggest battling serious strep infections by boosting our immune system might be a way to go.


Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.


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