Posts Tagged ‘sexually transmitted infections’

Newly Designed Molecule Blocks Chlamydia Infections

A newly designed molecule may block the damaging effects of Chlamydia, the bacteria responsible for the largest number of sexually transmitted infections in the United States.

About 3 million cases of Chlamydia trachomatis are reported each year among Americans.

If left untreated, the infection can scar a man’s sperm-carrying tubes and permanently damage a woman’s egg-transporting fallopian tubes.

The end result can be male infertility or female infertility if the infection is not treated properly with antibiotics.

Now a team of Duke University researchers may have come up with a new way to fight off a chlamydial infection, they report in the July 21 print edition of Cell Host and Microbe.

They have designed a molecule that takes away the bacteria’s self-defense mechanisms.

Instead of directly killing the bacteria with antibiotics, they disarm a central weapon of Chlamydia, and let the body take care of the rest.

By blocking a specific enzyme with this molecule, the enzyme no longer could degrade the proteins in the cell that would normally mount an immune response to the infection.

When the enzyme is inhibited, the infected human cells effectively “commit suicide,” says lead researcher Raphael Valdivia, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Duke Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.

“When the infected human cell dies, so does Chlamydia, and this ends the infection.”

Up to 25% of men infected with Chlamydia have no symptoms at all.

What’s more, almost two-thirds of men have not one but two genital infections, usually with gonorrhea, putting a double whammy of their reproductive tracts.

In women, the symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease, often caused by a chlamydial infection, may also be silent.

Most often, when a fertility evaluation finds a woman’s fallopian tubes are closed, she was not aware that she had previously had a pelvic infection.

Sometimes a man does not feel any symptoms either, and he may unwittingly pass the infection back and forth with his female partner.

If the Duke approach pans out, it could be a welcome addition to help fight off chlamydial infections.