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In war with 'superbugs,' Cedars-Sinai researchers see new weapon: Immune-boosting vitamin
Date:8/27/2012

a rare disease called neutrophil-specific granule deficiency, a hematologic disorder afflicting only a handful of people in the world. Due to a mutation of the gene CEBPE, patients with this disease have significantly weakened immune systems, leaving them prone to severe, chronic and life-threatening infections, including staph. The CEBPE gene regulates several antimicrobial factors in the body.

"Our goal in studying a rare disorder is that it may give us broad insight into the immune mechanisms that protect healthy individuals against staph infections," said Pierre Kyme, PhD, a researcher in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases in the Maxine Dunitz Children's Health Center and the Immunobiology Research Institute, and co-first author of the study with Nils Thoennissen, MD, who is now with the Department of Medicine at University of Muenster in Germany. "We found that if you over-express the gene in normal individuals, the body's immune cells do a better job of fighting off infection."

Kyme and Thoennissen turned to vitamin B3, which has been shown to increase the expression of some other genes in the CEBP family. The results: When studied in human blood, clinical doses of the vitamin appeared to virtually wipe out the staph infection in only a few hours.

Formal testing in clinical trials with patients is called for, based on these outcomes in the laboratory and in laboratory mice studies, said Phillip Koeffler, MD, professor of medicine at Cedars-Sinai and co-senior author of the study.

"There's more research to be done, but we believe that vitamin B3, and other compounds that are able to increase the activity of this particular gene, have the potential to be effective against other antibiotic-resistant bacteria in addition to strains of staph," he said.


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Contact: Nicole White
nicole.white@cshs.org
310-423-5215
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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