Bacterium in undercooked chicken causes paralysis: Study

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Bacterium in undercooked chicken causes paralysis: Study

Posted on : Tuesday 13th of December 2016

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US researchers have identified a bacterium, commonly found in undercooked chicken, that may cause Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS).

GBS is an autoimmune disorder and is the world's leading cause of acute neuromuscular paralysis in humans.

The research showed that if chicken isn't cooked to the proper minimum internal temperature, bacteria -- Campylobacter jejuni -- which still exist in the food can trigger GBS.

"The study showed that it takes a certain genetic makeup combined with a Campylobacter (bacteria) strain to cause this disease," said lead author Linda Mansfield, Professor at the Michigan State University, in the US.

Further, most of the bacteria strains were found to be antibiotic-resistant, with some causing more harm than good.

Use of certain antibiotics aggravated neurological signs, lesions and the number of immune antibodies that can mistakenly attack a patient's own organs and tissues.

The exact cause of this autoimmune disease is still uncertain, although some studies have linked GBS with the Zika virus, the researchers said.

Campylobacter jejuni is also known to trigger other autoimmune disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and Reiter's arthritis.

In the study, the reseachers successfully produced three preclinical models of GBS that represent two different forms of the syndrome seen in humans.

Many patients with GBS are critically ill and cannot participate in clinical trials. Thus, the models hold great potential for discovery of new treatments for this paralysis.

"Our models now provide a unique opportunity to understand how your personal genetic type may make you more susceptible to certain forms of GBS," Mansfield added.

Mansfield now wants to move forward quickly to test drugs against GBS in her models.

"Of course, new treatments would be wonderful, but therapeutics to prevent GBS from developing in the first place would be the best strategy so that people don't have to suffer with paralysis," she said.

The study was published in the Journal of Autoimmunity.

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