Gene Discovery Paves Way For Preventing Deadly Bacterial Shock

system, mobilizing a defensive response.

"If the early-warning system fails, the infection continues to spread throughout the body. This can result in massive overproduction of TNF and IL-1," Beutler said. "This deluge of chemical weapons can cause shock."

Discovery of the gene which is vital in activating the early-warning system is especially significant because it advances researchers' understanding of how the immune system detects endotoxin.

"We have proven that a single gene is essential for sensing endotoxin, and we have identified the protein this gene encodes," he said. "This knowledge might lead to effective methods to block the endotoxin signal, thereby preventing the worst complications of certain infections."

The other researchers involved in the study were: Dr. Alexander Poltorak, internal medicine postdoctoral fellow; Drs. Irina Smirnova, Xiaolong He and Chrisophe Van Huffel, HHMI postdoctoral fellows; Dr. Mu-Ya Liu, a postdoctoral fellow in pharmacology; Dale Birdwell, Erica Alejos and Maria Silva, HHMI research technicians; and researchers at the Max-Planck Institute fur Immunobiologie, Freiburg, Germany, and the Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology Center, Milan, Italy.


Contact: Susan Steeves
UT Southwestern Medical Center

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