July 14, 2009

Staphylococcus infection genetically mapped

U.S. scientists have mapped the genetic profiles of children with Staphylococcus aureus infections, showing how the immune system responds to the pathogen.

The infectious disease specialists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center said their findings might lead to improved therapeutic interventions and show why some people are apt to get more severe staphylococcal infections than others.

The researchers said their gene expression profiling summarizes how individual genes are being activated or suppressed in response to the infection. The results pinpointed how an individual's immune system responds to a S. aureus infection at the genetic level.

The beauty of our study is that we were able to use existing technology to understand in a real clinical setting what's going on in actual humans -- not models, not cells, not mice, but humans, Dr. Monica Ardura, lead author of the study, said. We have provided the first description of a pattern of response within an individual's immune system that is very consistent, very reproducible and very intense.

However, Ardura stressed more research is needed because the results represent a one-time snapshot of what's going on in the cell during an invasive staphylococcal infection. The next step, he said, is to study those dynamics in patients before, during and after infection.

The research is reported in the online journal PLoS One.