Curing Chlamydia Through The Gut: Medicine’s Next Big Thing?


SAN ANTONIO, TX (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases and although it adversely impacts men, it can be treacherous for infected women trying to get pregnant, possibly causing infertility and danger to infants. Now, promising research is revealing that if the infection hits first in the GI tract, it might act as a source of prevention.

Texas researchers searching for a vaccine against the STD chlamydia, made a huge unexpected discovery in a disease that so often goes undiagnosed by the people who are infected.

One patient who was previously infected with chlamydia said, “When I was with my new partner, he had noticed some I think just some changes in my genital area.”

Her chlamydia was easily cured with antibiotics, but this new research aims to prevent it. Human exposure to the STD can happen through genital or oral sex with an infected partner. Using mice in a controlled setting, scientists studied chlamydia transmission and discovered where the bacteria develops in the body makes a difference.

Guangming Zhong, MD, PhD, a Biomedical Researcher from UT Health San Antonio said, “We have strong evidence showing that if you expose the chlamydia in the gut first, you essentially have vaccination against subsequent chlamydia exposure.” (Read Full Interview)

But researchers say if the genital tract is exposed to chlamydia first, the disease develops, and can be harmful. Dr. Zhong says researchers are exploring the idea of someday delivering chlamydia bacteria as an oral vaccine. Meaning this STD with hidden dangers, shame and a serious stigma, might someday be eliminated and spare others the uncomfortable conversation that follows the diagnosis.

The patient shared, “The really impactful part was telling the last partner, being we were no longer together, and we didn’t have that trust.  We didn’t have that caring for one another. It’s an important part of STDs, is telling the last partner you were with, so it doesn’t continue to just spread.”

The University of Texas researchers say tests in human subjects are a critical next step. The scientists say you can think of the orally ingested chlamydia bacteria in much the same way as many people think of probiotics to improve gut health.

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Field Producer; Bruce Maniscalco, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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BACKGROUND: Chlamydia is a common STD that can infect both men and women. It can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system. This can make it difficult or impossible for her to get pregnant later on. Chlamydia can also cause a potentially fatal pregnancy that occurs outside the womb. If you’ve had chlamydia and were treated in the past, you can still get infected again. This can happen if you have unprotected sex with someone who has chlamydia. Most people who have chlamydia have no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may not appear until several weeks after you have sex with an infected partner. Even when chlamydia causes no symptoms, it can damage your reproductive system. Women with symptoms may notice an abnormal vaginal discharge, and a burning sensation when urinating. Symptoms in men can include a discharge from their penis, a burning sensation when urinating or pain and swelling in one or both testicles. If you are pregnant and have chlamydia, you can pass the infection to your baby during delivery. This could cause an eye infection or pneumonia in your newborn. Having chlamydia may also make it more likely to deliver your baby too early. If you are pregnant, you should get tested for chlamydia at your first prenatal visit. Testing and treatment are the best ways to prevent health problems.



DIAGNOSING & TREATMENT: Laboratory tests can diagnose chlamydia. Your health care provider may ask you to provide a urine sample or may use a cotton swab to get a sample from your vagina to test for chlamydia. Chlamydia can be cured with the right treatment. When taken properly it will stop the infection and could decrease your chances of having complications later on. Repeat infection with chlamydia is common. You should be tested again about three months after you are treated, even if your partner was treated.



NEW RESEARCH: Guangming Zhong, MD, PhD, a Biomedical researcher from UT Health San Antonio stated, “We initially aimed to understand Chlamydia biology using the mouse model and accidentally found that first exposure to Chlamydia actually made the mice more resistant to chlamydial infection in the genital tract, just like vaccination. We are taking advantage of this finding to develop a live attenuated oral vaccine.  In this way, even if the GI tract Chlamydia is accidentally introduced into the genital tract by human behaviors, the attenuated vaccine strain won’t be able to cause diseases in the genital tract.  Infecting mice with a mouse strain of chlamydia is an appropriate model for learning information on how human chlamydia strains behave in humans.”

(Source: Guangming Zhong, MD, PhD)



Will Sansom, PR


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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Guangming Zhong, MD, PhD

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