(Feb. 9, 2012) -- A group of researchers in the UTSA South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (STCEID) was granted a United States patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its work on Francisella tularensis (F. tularensis), the bacterium that causes the human disease tularemia (or rabbit fever). While natural cases of tularemia are relatively rare, F. tularensis can be fatal when acquired through the lungs, and thus this organism is considered a potential biothreat agent.
UTSA researchers James Chambers, professor of biochemistry; Jieh-Juen Yu, research assistant professor; Neal Guentzel, professor of microbiology; Bernard Arulanandam, Jane and Roland Blumberg Professor in Biology and associate dean of research for scientific innovation; and Karl Klose, professor of microbiology and STCEID director; have studied F. tularensis for years. The team led by Arulanandam and Chambers found that Francisella degrades alkaline phosphatase (AP) during infection, and the distinctive degradation can be used as a diagnostic tool to reveal the presence of the bacteria.
"The South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases is focused on developing new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines to reduce the impact of infectious organisms on the human population," said Klose. "Tularemia is a difficult disease to diagnose, due to its infrequent appearance in the clinical setting, yet rapid diagnosis may be critical for effective intervention during a bioterrorist event. This patent may lead to better diagnostics and possibly even novel therapeutics for tularemia."
In 2010, STCEID researchers also were awarded a patent for developing a tularemia vaccine composed of a live crippled Francisella bacterium unable to cause disease but able to induce protection against infection.
The STCEID focuses on research in molecular microbiology, immunology, medical mycology, virology, microbial genomics, vaccine development and biodefense, and studies the organisms that cause Valley Fever, Lyme disease, anthrax, cholera and other infectious diseases. The center also provides hands-on training to high school, undergraduate and graduate students who intend to pursue careers in science and technology.
Working with the Department of Biology in the UTSA College of Sciences, center faculty have established an undergraduate academic track in microbiology, a master's program in biology and biotechnology, and a Ph.D. program in cell and molecular biology. In 2011, the STCEID established a Center of Excellence in Infection Genomics with funding from the Department of Defense.
"The push to commercialize UTSA intellectual property for the benefit of the general public is one of the things that will help UTSA become a Tier One research institution," said Arulanandam. "Those discoveries lead to commercial licenses, income that will give our researchers and others across the university the opportunity to work on human health challenges facing today's society."
Learn more about UTSA's College of Business master's programs. These hands-on sessions allow students to review application procedures, learn admissions requirements and ask questions about the college master's programs.
Business Building (BB 4.02.10), Main Campus
Orientation marks a major step toward becoming a Roadrunner. It is a unique experience designed to welcome freshmen and transfers to UTSA and ensure a successful transition into college. They will learn about UTSA, prepare for their first semester and have fun meeting other students. There is also a special Family Orientation program too.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The three-day event showcases the Lone Star State's diversity adn rich heritage through a wide variety of ethnic food, music, dance, arts and crafts.
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
Learn more about UTSA's Master of Arts degree in Education and five program areas at this free informational session.
Main Building (MB 0.410), Main Campus
The 3rd annual event showcases the latest research discoveries of trainees, faculty, staff and students from health-related disciplines. Register in advance for this free event.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom (HUC 1.106), Main Campus
The inaugural Roadrunner Weekend begins with a golf scramble on Friday and a Gala and After Party Saturday night. The event connects UTSA alumni and supports scholarships.
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr., San Antonio
The Academy is targeted at providing instructional tools to create a social studies curriculum with Chicano/Mexican American content.
Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
The sympoisum will focus on the interface between aging and neurodegenerative diseases, will educate the wider research community about advancements in this fast-paced field and stimulate collaborative research in this area. Register online for this free event.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom (HUC 1.106), Main Campus
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