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Newly Identified Strains Of Chlamydia Trachomatis – A Gateway To New Disease

Chlamydia trachomatis, a bacterium, which is one of the leading cause for sexually transmitted diseases and the second leading cause for blindness globally, is said to be// evolving at a rate faster than scientists would have imagined. The scientists from Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) were the first to conclude this with the help of a new study.

The Scientists believe that the bacterium is evolving through a process called recombination where genes from one or more strains combine to create new strains and – theoretically – new diseases.

The study is featured in the November issue of Genome Research and was led by Dr. Deborah Dean MD, MPH, senior scientist at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI). Her research suggests that since Chlamydia trachomatis evolves through recombination where one or more strains combine, the traditional method of studying a single gene to track the transmission of the bacterium is wrong.

'What we found is an organism that not only evolves rapidly, but in ways that we thought were rare. We also discovered that this organism can customize its attack,' said Dr. Dean. 'Consequently, the constant flux of the bacterium could serve as a gateway for new emerging diseases, but more research needs to be conducted to understand if and how this is happening.'

600 million people are infected across the globe with Chlamydia trachomatis and 8 million are already blind or severely visually impaired. In some parts of third-world countries, more than 90% of the population is infected. Chlamydia trachomatis has a variety of strains; different strains are responsible for different diseases. Some strains cause sexually transmitted diseases while others cause eye infections.

Blinding trachoma is caused by repeated eye infections that cause scarring, which result in the eyelashes turning in-wards. Bacterial infection develops as the eyelashes scratch the surface of
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