Researchers discover new treatment for chlamydia



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Researchers at the University of Waterloo have developed a new way to prevent and treat Chlamydia, the most common sexually transmitted bacterial infection in the world.

The new treatment differs from traditional antibiotic treatment as it is a type of gene therapy that is administered via nanotechnology and is showing a 65% success rate in preventing chlamydia infection in a single dose.

"As resistance to antibiotics continues to develop, people may have chlamydia infections that can not be treated by conventional means, which is causing increasing public health challenges," said Emmanuel Ho, a professor at the Waterloo School of Pharmacy. "If it is not treated or if the treatment takes a long period of time, it can lead to infertility and other reproductive problems, so it is important to find new ways to treat this common infection.

"As the Food and Drug Administration in the United States recently approved the first siRNA-based drug for the market, we expect this type of research to be widely available in the future."

The new treatment created in Ho's laboratory targets chlamydial infection, preventing most bacteria from entering the cells of the genital tract and destroying any bacteria that is able to penetrate the cell wall. The team was able to achieve this by using a small interfering ribonucleic acid (siRNA) to target a specific gene called PDGFR-beta in the female reproductive tract, which creates a protein that binds to the bacterium Chlamydia.

"By targeting PDGFR-beta, we have been able to prevent the creation of the protein that Chlamydia will use to enter the skin cells of the genital tract," Ho said. "As a result, an incoming infection has fewer targets to catch and the infection is less likely to happen."

If chlamydial bacteria can bind to and enter cells, nanomedicine treatment is designed to activate autophagy, a cellular process in which infected skin cells are able to form a bubble around these bacteria and destroy them.

By itself, siRNA can not enter the skin cells to reduce the expression of PDGFR-beta and prevent the binding of Chlamydia. The new gene therapy uses a single nanoparticle that allows the siRNA to enter cells, reducing Chlamydia's ability to bind and destroy the invading bacteria and prevent the disease from spreading.

The new treatment of Ho is detailed in a new study, the induction of autophagy and the knockdown of PDGFR-β by nanoparticles encapsulated in siRNA reduce Chlamydia trachomatis infection, which appears in the journal Scientific Reports.

Source: University of Waterloo

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