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Bacteria Resistance May Result From DNA, Says Study

Jan 21, 2016 03:28 PM EST
Illness in the household
Why can some people in a family resist bacteria and remain without stomach bug or other ailments? It may have to do with genes, says a new study.
(Photo : Flickr: Loren Kerns)

Some folks can stay well in a house full of snifflers.

Is this because they are iron-clad, have good genes, or are huffing Vitamin C from packets?

A new study says that resistance to E.coli and certain other germs may come down to DNA. 

In that research, 30 healthy adults were exposed to enterotoxigenic E.coli, which is a leading cause, worldwide, of diarrhea from bacteria and often is the culprit behind "traveler's diarrhea," which is often treated by antibiotics. The work was a collaboration among researchers from Duke University, Durham VA Medical Center and Johns Hopkins University.

The scientists drew blood, searching for information in the patients' gene expression. The latter shows how much some genes are turned off or on. Among the six patients with strong symptoms, there were differences in gene expression from six other patients who revealed no symptoms even after exposure to the bacteria.

While thousands of genes marked the two groups, in the activity of 29 genes related to immunity, there were some sharp differences. Those demarcations were able to show who would stay well and who would succumb to the illness, noted senior author Ephraim Tsalik at Duke University, in a release.

"Within each group, there were changes in the patients' gene expression patterns happening throughout the experiment. We found there were differences with the subjects that seemed to predict who would become sick. We interpreted those as signals that show an innate resistance to infection. There may be certain genetic traits that can increase or decrease your chances of being infected after exposure to a pathogen," Tsalik said in the release.

The study was recently published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. Researchers hope to replicate the research with other illnesses, including the flu.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

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