Scientists Find Possible Cure for Deadly Flesh-Eating Streptococcus Infection

Collaboration between the National University of Singapore (NUS) and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJ) on inflammation research may lead to a potential treatment for deadly bacterial infections. Scientists from the NUS-HUJ-CREATE Inflammation Research Programme based in Singapore have found that asparaginase (ASNASE) – the enzyme that degrades the amino acid asparagine and serves as a common chemotherapeutic agent – arrests Group A Streptococcus (GAS) growth in human blood and blocks bacteria’s proliferation, thus initiating a new potential treatment against deadly Streptococcal infections. These findings were published in the January 16, 2014 issue of the prestigious journal Cell. The research program is funded by the National Research Foundation, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore, under its Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) program. The NUS-HUJ-CREATE Inflammation Research Program was established in 2011, and is focused on advancing an understanding of cellular and molecular mechanisms of inflammation of diseases prevalent in Asia, a field that is currently under-studied. GAS is a strict human pathogen that causes a wide range of infections, from mild to deadly. It can colonize the host without causing any symptoms, or cause mild infections of skin and trough such as pharyngitis. On the invasive end of the spectrum, GAS can cause life-threatening infections such as bacteremia, necrotizing fasciitis (commonly known as flesh-eating disease), and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. Annually, disseminated GAS infections cause approximately 160,000 deaths globally and severe injuries to those infected.
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