Study: Disease-causing stomach bug attacks energy generation in host cells
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IMAGE: Microbiology professor Steven Blanke, graduate student Ik-Jung Kim and their colleagues discovered how a disease-causing bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, undermines the body’s immune defenses. view more 

Credit: Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Researchers report in a new study that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori – a major contributor to gastritis, ulcers and stomach cancer – resists the body’s immune defenses by shutting down energy production within the cells of the stomach lining that serve as a barrier to infection.

The new findings, reported in the journal Cell Microbe & Host, will aid efforts to better understand and combat H. pylori infections, the researchers said.

H. pylori infects and causes gastritis in half the world’s population. It is transmitted from person to person, usually during the first two years of life,” said University of Illinois microbiology professor Steven Blanke, who led the new research. “Long-term infection can extend over decades, and most people never experience any symptoms of infection until the disease has progressed to an advanced state.”

The human stomach is the only known environment where H. pylori exists, Blanke said.

“When any barrier in the human body is colonized by a pathogen, the immune system sets

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