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A recent study conducted by the New York University School of Medicine has found that a treatment for HIV may also be effective in warding off Staphylococcus aureus, also known as staph infection, which affects thousands of people annually.
The finding came about when Victor J. Torres, Ph.D., a bacteriologist, and Derya Unutmaz, M.D., an immunologist, were collaborating on research in which they analyzed a cell receptor named CCR5. Nearly 16 years ago, investigators at the NYU School of Medicine found that CCR5 is what HIV uses as a point of entry into T cells in order to proliferate throughout the body. Torres and Unutmaz found that when the staph infection enters the body, it releases a toxin known as LukED that binds to the receptor and causes it to die. CCR5 is crucial to the body's immunity defense system in staving off staph infection.
The researchers then conducted a second experiment in which they introduced the CCR5 receptor to an HIV medication known as maraviroc, which inhibits HIV from harming the CCR5. They then introduced the cells to the LukED toxins.
"The goal in blocking the toxin with maraviroc or similar agents is to give the upper hand to the immune system to better control the infection," said Torres.
They found that the maraviroc was able to shield the receptor from the LukED. They then tested the drug's effect on a mouse model and witnessed the same results. The investigators noted that they hope future clinical trials involving humans will also show the HIV drug's effectiveness in warding off the bacterial infection.
Staph infection facts
According to the National Institutes of Health, there are nearly 30 strains of staph bacteria, but a majority of the infections, such as skin infections, toxic shock syndrome, food poisoning, pneumonia and blood poisoning, are caused by Staphylococcus.
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