Study of equine bacterium might lead to vaccine for strep throat

MONDAY, Nov. 27, 2017 (HealthDay News)—The fight against germs that cause millions of sore throats each year may have gotten a boost from horses.

Working in partnership, scientists from the Animal Health Trust, a veterinary and scientific research charity in the United Kingdom, and those from the Houston Methodist Research Institute in Texas identified new genes that help explain how the bacteria survive in people.

Infections caused by the bacteria—Streptococcus pyogenes—have surged in the past two decades, according to the researchers. They say the bug is the culprit behind 600 million sore throats caused by inflammation each year, with infection often leading to invasive disease. It’s responsible for 100 million cases of scarlet fever, acute rheumatic fever and the flesh-eating disease necrotizing fasciitis, the researchers said.

Still, they added, little has been known about the 1,800 genes in the bacteria that enable it to infect people’s throats.

Normally, researchers must painstakingly investigate one gene at a time. However, the veterinary scientists in Britain discovered a way to simultaneously test all the genes of a close relative of Streptococcus pyogenes that affects horses. It’s called Streptococcus equi.

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