Meningitis-Iron Gladiators Slay Scavengers
Fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, and a rash could be flu symptoms. But the give-away could be the rash for a case of bacterial meningitis. Meningitis is a life threatening inflammation of the protective covering of the brain and spinal cord, and can be caused by several things. In this case we are talking about bacteria called Neisseria meningitis or Haemophilus influenza.
Researchers at the University of Utah have now posed a new theory for these bacteria. They are scavengers, scavengers of iron in the blood to help the infection move around. But wait, another protein in the blood called transferrin helps to carry the iron in the blood AND also could protect the iron from the scavenger hitchhikers, acting like an immunity gene.
Researchers, with the help of primates, looked at the genetic make-up of Transferrin Binding Protein A (TbpA). Then they looked at human TbpA and found a variation that could be advantageous. The variation makes it unable to interact with haemophilus influenza!
Why not give patients more transferrin? This could be a great thing for those antibiotic resistant bacteria!!!