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Mercedes Riggs

New Treatment for Gonorrhea Prevents Reinfection


By Rachel Feltman Scientific American: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=new-treatment-forgonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by bacteria called Neisseria Gonorrhoeae. Symptoms include a painful urination, inflammation of the genital and urinary tracts, and a discharge from that same area. If not taken care of properly, this STD can result in infertility or even death. The reinfection rates are also extremely high. Scientists have been looking for ways to prevent reinfection from gonorrhea. Although uncertain, researchers from the University of Buffalo believe that the way to do this is to actually police the immune system against gonorrhea by injecting an immunoregulatory protein, called interleukin-12 (IL-12) into the genital tract. In over 20 years of research, Michael Russell, an immunologist and microbiologist who was one of the researchers on this study, recorded high levels of IL-10 in these gonococcal infections. He also observed that this is what was actually suppressing the immune systems responses, such as creating anti-bodies which help fight infections. Russell hypothesized that if they could get enough IL-12 into the genital tract to counteract the effects of IL-10, then it could help the body fight against gonorrhea when it is in the body, and could potentially be used as a treatment for the STD. Before they could test this on any sort of level, however, they first needed to find a new way to produce the toxic IL-12. Michael Russells colleague, Nejat Egilmez, was the man who developed this new mechanism. Somehow he was able to target microspheres of slow-releasing

Mercedes Riggs

nanoparticles of the cytokine directly onto the immunosuppressant tumors. They then labeled this procedure as the IL-12 treatment. After finding a non-toxic delivery method of IL-12, these researchers were able to successfully test this hypothesis by injecting this immunoregulatory protein into the vaginal tracts of infected mice. What were the results, you ask? Mice who received this treatment were seemingly less likely to be reinfected than those controls that were exposed to this STD about a month later. Also, the mice who received this treatment responded at an extremely faster rate to antibiotics. The researchers concluded that this treatment prevents immune systems from being tricked out of developing adaptive responses to the disease, because IL-12 counteracts the effects of IL-10 in the diseased area. Russell says that the IL-12 treatment will be able to turn the infection into a live vaccine which will enable to body to develop immunity to gonorrhea. The author concludes that it is very important for us to take into consideration that the genital tracts of mice and the genital tracts of humans are very different. How will our human genital tracts react to such treatment? IL-12 stimulates T cells. Would higher level of T cells mean higher levels of CD4 cells? (CD4 cells can be projected as a vulnerable point where HIV can enter the body). There are many questions that still need to be answered before we can even begin testing on humans. However, the future is looking bright. And hopefully we will be able to undergo such treatments on these infectious diseases. The reason why I picked this article is because I thought it was really interesting information. It would be absolutely amazing if we could actually reach the point in our medical world where we could prevent or cure infectious diseases such as gonorrhea. I feel like this study

Mercedes Riggs

has really shown some promising evidence that we can actually get to that point. I also feel like this study was a huge stepping stone into that direction of discovering how we can cure/ prevent these infectious diseases. This article deals with biology in a few ways, but one in particularthe fact that gonorrhea is when bacteria, known as Neisseria Gonorrhoeae, has entered the genital tract of an organism. Obviously, bacterium is one of 5 different things that are alive on this earth.