UH Moment: "Cholera"

Cholera is not a disease we think about, though in some parts of the world its touch is never far away.  One UH researcher is working on an antitoxin to control it.  Listen to this week's UH Moment.
Though largely eradicated in the Western world, cholera is still endemic in the war zones and slums of third world countries. Research being done by UH Biology Professor Glen Legge could help create an antitoxin that would significantly reduce the severity of the disease.

Professor Glen LeggeLegge is studying the cholera toxin at the molecular level.

"The best way of thinking about it is that it is a molecular Trojan horse," he said.  "It knocks on the door of the host cell and the host cell says, 'come on inside.' And there inside of that human cell, it unravels itself."

Legge is studying exactly how the bacteria toxin activates and takes over human cells, in the hopes that an antitoxin could be created that would limit the effects of the disease.

"You are not directly trying to kill the organism; you are trying to kill its weapons," he added.

UH Center for Molecular Biophysics LogoSuch an antitoxin would be used in conjunction with traditional oral rehydration therapy to ease the symptoms of cholera and help stop its spread.

"Then the person will get better quicker and the bacterial load that is released back into the environment will be reduced as a consequence as well."

Glen Legge's research is part of what is happening at the University of Houston.  I'm Marisa Ramirez.

Telling the stories of the University of Houston, this UH Moment is brought to you by KUHF, listener supported radio from the University of Houston.