The bacteria responsible for most cases of pneumonia induces immune response to human host in such a way that the end result is favorable - not to the host, but to the bacteria itself.
Researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center discovered the innovative survival skills of the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, or pneumococcus.
The survival skills of pathogens can even go as far as choosing to be less harmful to women than in men
, only to let women live through to produce an offspring and pass the infection.
For the strep bacteria, its tactical strike is to cause a strong inflammatory immune reaction in host's airways. When that happens, the host, which we can call the unwilling victim, will produce nasal secretions. The strep bacteria from the mucous membranes will be forced to expel from the body. When that happens, the evil swarm of bacteria can attack its next host victim.
These pathogens have evolved and so our researchers must up their game now that they know this tactical advantage of the strep bacteria.
If our scientists can't still find the means to totally eradicate this S. pneumoniae,
at least they can keep it from producing the toxin called pneumolysin
, which causes the inflammation in the first place.
But scientists explained that the higher the transmission of the bacteria to other hosts prevents the damaging effect to the current one.
"Our study results argue that toxins made by bacteria are central mediators of transmission between hosts, which makes them attractive as a potential ingredient in vaccines, to which they could be added specifically to block transmission," says Jeffrey Weiser, MD, chair of the Department of Microbiology at NYU Langone.
"There are precedents in using disarmed bacterial toxins, or toxoids, as vaccine ingredients, as with existing vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis."
The study is published in Cell Host & Microbe.
See: Cholera Bacteria Shape-Shift To Become More Infectious