Researchers from University of California, San Diego, had discovered that a single molecule is responsible for helping bacterial infections like bacterial meningitis etc., in the body.
By blocking the molecule's anchoring ability, researchers may be able to find a way to stave off the most common serious infection of the central nervous system and a major cause of childhood death and disability. The researchers' findings appear in the September issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Researchers for the study have identified a gene that produces a fat-sugar complex, which in turn anchors a molecule called LTA (short for lipoteichoic acid), found on the bacterial cell wall. This anchoring is a necessary first step for bacteria to cross from the bloodstream into the central nervous system through an anatomical obstacle called the blood-brain barrier.
The team began by looking for new bacterial genes that allowed them to penetrate the barrier. Through a process that involved generating and screening thousands of Streptococcus mutants in a laboratory model of the human blood-brain barrier, the researchers found that a gene called iagA (short for invasion association gene-A) played a central role.
By producing a fat-sugar complex that anchors LTA, iagA establishes a link that allows bacteria to begin making its way into the nervous system. The researchers found that removing the iagA gene from the Streptococcus inhibited bacterial interactions with the blood-brain barrier, reducing mortality rates up to 90 percent in mice.