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Iron-ing out Listeria to find vaccines

By Joe Whitworth+

25-Jul-2014

Photo: Cedida. Pilar Menéndez, from Navarra University is doing the work at University of Southern Denmark
Photo: Cedida. Pilar Menéndez, from Navarra University is doing the work at University of Southern Denmark

The mechanisms of iron regulation in Listeria monocytogenes are being researched by a biologist-biochemist from Navarra University, in Spain.

The aim of Pilar Menéndez’s work is to find therapeutic targets and vaccines to control listeriosis.

To do this it must be understood why this bacterium is pathogenic and its factors of virulence.

Menéndez’s project focuses on the study of the mechanism where the bacteria introduces iron and regulates its level.

This element is essential for Listeria but is toxic in large quantities, given that it causes oxidative stress due to the production of free radicals.

Menéndez’s research is part of her Master’s final project in Molecular Biology, at the University of Southern Denmark.

She is studying the mechanism of iron capture and the mode of regulation for avoiding it becoming toxic for the bacterium. It does this through a novel system of the genic regulation of small molecules of RNA (sRNA or small RNA).

Listeria is capable of surviving in a variety of environments – including high concentrations of salt and low temperatures – and is found foods such as cheeses and undercooked meat.

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