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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Florida: Researchers Unlock Chlamydia’s Persistent State

New research from the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions and the Emerging Pathogens Institute reveals that using the antibiotic fosmidomycin against Chlamydia trachomatis causes the bacteria to enter a protective, bunker-like “persistent” state which helps the microorganism survive harsh conditions. When conditions improve, Chlamydia leave the persistent state and continue to replicate.The study was recently published in PLOS-Pathogens.

Understanding the gene-level changes that take place for Chlamydia to enter the unique state known as persistence could help researchers eventually develop strategies to block these changes from occurring, making the organism more vulnerable to antibiotics and circumventing chronic chlamydial infections. Researchers believe that Chlamydia’s ability to persist for long periods of time in a human host might contribute to the worst outcomes of infection: infertility and ectopic pregnancy.

Research led by Dr. Jessica Slade, a postdoctoral associate in the lab of Dr. Anthony Maurelli, a professor in the department of environmental and global health, originally sought to test whether fosmidomycin might have antimicrobial activity against C. trachomatis. Dr. Slade was inspired to test this particular drug because fosmidomycin is known to kill specific types of bacteria and parasites that invade host cells; and Chlamydia bacteria use cellular invasion as a key reproductive strategy: they enter epithelial cells where they can then safely divide.

“I thought that fosmidomycin would prove lethal against Chlamydia,” Dr. Slade said. “But it turned out to be a very different story.”

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