Novel Phage Therapy Saves Patient with Multidrug-Resistant Bacterial Infection

Intravenous viruses are used to target deadly bacterium; dramatic case suggests potential alternative to failing antibiotics —

Scientists and physicians at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, working with colleagues at the U.S. Navy Medical Research Center – Biological Defense Research Directorate (NMRC-BDRD), Texas A&M University, a San Diego-based biotech and elsewhere, have successfully used an experimental therapy involving bacteriophages — viruses that target and consume specific strains of bacteria — to treat a patient near death from a multidrug-resistant bacterium. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Health Newsroom

What Makes A Bacterial Species Able to Cause Human Disease?

Global effort produces first cross-species genomic analysis of Leptospira, a bacterium that can cause disease – and death – in targeted mammals, including humans —

An international team of scientists, led by researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), have created the first comprehensive, cross-species genomic comparison of all 20 known species of Leptospira, a bacterial genus that can cause disease and death in livestock and other domesticated mammals, wildlife and humans. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Joseph Vinetz

Dr. Joseph Vinetz

Joseph M. Vinetz, MD, senior author of the study, is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Director of the UC San Diego Center for Tropical Medicine and Travelers Health.

Fellow UC San Diego Division of Infectious Diseases faculty members Michael A. Matthias, PhD, and Douglas E. Berg, PhD, are the other Department of Medicine investigators in the international multi-center leptospirosis project. Dr. Berg is Professor of Medicine and Professor of Genetics, and Dr. Matthias is Assistant Professor of Medicine.

Dr. Vinetz conducts his research in tropical infectious disease in laboratories at UC San Diego and at Instituto de Medicina “Alexander von Humboldt,” Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru.  He focuses his work on malaria and leptospirosis.

Read the article in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases (Open Access)

Dr. Bernd Schnabl and Coworkers Find Another Way Alcohol Damages the Liver

Natural gut antibiotics diminished by alcohol leave mice more prone to bacterial growth in the liver, exacerbating alcohol-induced liver disease —

Alcohol itself can directly damage liver cells. Now researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report evidence that alcohol is also harmful to the liver for a second reason — it allows gut bacteria to migrate to the liver, promoting alcohol-induced liver disease. The study, conducted in mice and in laboratory samples, is published February 10 in Cell Host & Microbe.

“Alcohol appears to impair the body’s ability to keep microbes in check,” said senior author Bernd Schnabl, MD, associate professor of gastroenterology at UC San Diego School of Medicine. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


BBernd Schnabl, MDernd Schnabl, MD, is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology faculty members Samuel B. Ho, MD, Professor of Medicine; and David A. Brenner, MD, Vice Chancellor, Health Sciences, Dean of UC San Diego School of Medicine and Professor of Medicine are coauthors of the study report.

Read the Article Abstract

Dr. Schnabl’s Laboratory Website

Cigarette Smoke Makes Superbugs More Aggressive

In lab and mouse experiments, cigarette smoke helps drug-resistant bacteria fight off the immune system —

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an antibiotic-resistant superbug, can cause life-threatening skin, bloodstream and surgical site infections or pneumonia. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine now report that cigarette smoke may make matters worse. The study, published March 30 by Infection and Immunity, shows that MRSA bacteria exposed to cigarette smoke become even more resistant to killing by the immune system. …Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Laura E. Crotty Alexander, MDPulmonologist Laura E. Crotty Alexander, MD, is senior author of the study report. She is a Health Sciences assistant clinical professor in the Department of Medicine at UC San Diego and a staff physician at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System.

Read the study abstract with link to PDF in Infection and Immunity (UCSD only)

Suppressing Activity of Common Intestinal Bacteria Reduces Tumor Growth

Research findings from Dr. Eyal Raz and his coworkers are the subject of the UCSD Newsroom story, “Suppressing Activity of Common Intestinal Bacteria Reduces Tumor Growth.” The story has run in media including ScienceDaily, PhysOrg, and HealthCanal.com.

Eyal Raz, M.D., is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy, and Immunology.

Dr. Joseph Vinetz and Colleagues Discover a New Species of Leptospirosis Bacteria

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Joseph Vinetz and colleagues have discovered a new species of bacteria that may be a major cause of a potentially fatal tropical disease.

The disease, leptospirosis, is transmitted from animals to humans. Severe forms of leptospirosis have high fatality rates.

Joseph Vinetz, M.D., is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases. In the study, he collaborated with researchers at other North American centers and the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru.

The study was published in the April 1 issue of Neglected Tropical Diseases:

Matthias MA, Ricaldi JN, Cespedes M, … and Vinetz, JM. Human Leptospirosis Caused by a New, Antigenically Unique Leptospira Associated with a Rattus Species Reservoir in the Peruvian Amazon. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2008 April; 2(4): e213. Published online 2008 April 2. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000213. Read the report

Read the full story from UC San Diego Health Sciences Communications

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