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Researchers from New York University recently made a breakthrough in cataloging the genes of Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria known to cause inflammation and gastrointestinal cancer. Scientists hope that this will lead to more effective H. pylori tests.
The bacteria lives in the stomachs of over half the world's population, and is often harmless. However, genetic variations in the bug can make it more virulent, leading to intestinal inflammation and stomach cancer.
The investigation found that a particular cytotoxin that is known to lead to gastrointestinal conditions is present in varieties of the bacteria that have a certain genetic mutation.
"In addition to building a picture of the H. pylori genome, we have been trying to find out what features of the Amerindian strain of H. pylori might be responsible for gastric cancer and other related conditions that have been reported," said lead researcher Josep Bassaganya-Riera.
He added that the improved understanding of the bug could lead to more effective H. pylori tests that will be able to detect which carriers are most likely to develop complications.
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