Health Watch — Bacteria: Restoring Immune Function

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about fighting harmful bacteria. The first line of treatment for infection involves killing the bacteria with antibiotics. But that may not restore the body to health.

Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that a special enzyme must wipe out the molecule that tells the body it’s been invaded before the body will be healthy again. Dr. Robert Munford, a UT Southwestern microbiologist, says the immune system will remain suppressed if this molecule isn’t turned off. That keeps the body from recovering and leaves it vulnerable to more infections. Scientists have observed this in animals and now will find out if it also applies to humans and how the mechanism can be used to help people recover from illness.

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October 2008

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