Monday, December 20, 2010

Hemoglobin gene as a potential screening factor for Staph susceptibility?

The New York Times recently published an interesting article on the research of Dr. Eric P. Skaar at Vanderbilt University.  Dr. Skaar began researching Staphylococcus in 2002, a deadly bug that kills about 100,000 Americans each year and is the number one cause of hospital acquired infections.

Dr. Skaar's research focused on learning why some people are more susceptible to Staph than others.  Like all organisms, Staph needs iron to survive and it obtains iron by bursting open red blood cells and binding itself to hemoglobins.  Because there are genetic variations in hemoglobin, Dr. Skaar suspects that Staph prefers certain hemoglobin over others.  His research has already established that Staph prefers human hemoglobin over hemoglobin from other animals such as mice.  Dr. Skaar is now focused on identifying those genetic variations in hemoglobin that are most preferred by Staph.

If he is successful, hemoglobin screening may become a routine tool to test a patient's susceptibility to Staph.

Link to New York Times article

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