Chlamydia promotes gene mutations linked to cancer

June 21, 2013 at 7:22 PM
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BERLIN, June 21 (UPI) -- Chlamydia, a bacterial sexually transmitted disease, can cause mutations in the host DNA that can pave the way for cancer, German researchers say.

Cindrilla Chumduri, Rajendra Kumar Gurumurthy and Thomas F. Meyer, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, discovered Chlamydia induces long-lasting effects on the genome and epi-genome of their host cells. Such changes are increasingly implicated in the development of a range of cancers, the researchers said.

Worldwide, more than 90 million new cases of genital infections occur each year, while 70 percent of women infected with Chlamydia remain asymptomatic and these bacteria can establish chronic infections for months, or even years.

However, while it can cause no symptoms, Chlamydia can damage a woman's reproductive organs. In addition, standard anti-bacterial drugs are proving increasingly ineffective in complete eradication, as Chlamydia goes in to persistent mode, leading to asymptomatic chronic infection, the study said.

The researchers showed Chlamydia infections can cause mutations in the host DNA by overriding the normal mechanisms by which their host prevents unregulated growth of genetically damaged cells that could lead to the development of cancer.

The findings were published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

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