Houston Methodist researchers use genetic roadmap to find cure for flesh-eating bacteria disease

Houston Methodist Hospital researchers are working to cure flesh-eating bacteria, a deadly disease that attacks the muscle, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Although the disease, called necrotizing myositis, is not common, up to 50 percent of all humans who develop it will die, according to a release from the hospital cited by the Chronicle. It often leaves survivors with severe deformities and missing limbs.

For the research, James Musser, MD, PhD, chairman of the department of pathology and genomic medicine at Houston Methodist, and his team effectively used TraDIS, a genetic tool used in horses to treat "strangles," an infection similar to severe strep throat.

The tool allowed them to rapidly concentrate on the genes responsible for causing or contributing to group A strep necrotizing myositis. By doing this, researchers identified "every gene important for this bacteria to infect muscle," according to the release.

"We call this identifying the secret life of group A strep because before this novel work was done we really did not understand the full range of different genes that were contributing to this terrible infection," Dr. Musser said. "We now understand precisely what high-value targets we should be going after to disable or destroy."

Dr. Mussar said he expects a vaccine or treatment for the disease to be created in the next 10 to 15 years, KHOU reported.

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