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OU Researcher Spearheads Publication That Freely Shares Strep Research With World

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 - Campus News -
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Sharing knowledge is the motivation behind a new open access book just published by the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and freely available online.

The book provides a detailed look at what is known about Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as Group A Streptococcus. The bacterium causes a wide range of infections and is responsible for diseases, including strep throat, scarlet fever, pharyngitis, impetigo, cellulitis, necrotizing fasciitis, toxic shock syndrome, rheumatic fever, and more.  There are as many as 11,500 cases of invasive Group A Strep disease each year in the United States and more than 1,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The book aims to provide an up-to-date and comprehensive review of research on Streptococcus pyogenes, including its basic biology, epidemiology, genetics and pathways that facilitate group A streptococcal infections.  It was the brainchild of Joseph J. Ferretti, Ph. D., researcher and professor of microbiology and immunology with the OU College of Medicine. Ferretti has worked in the area of S. pyogenes research for over 50 years and is known internationally for his research into the molecular and genetic processes by which the organism causes infection and become resistant to treatment.

“I personally have received more than 35 years of continuous support for my research from the NIH and other agencies. This is a way to share my knowledge and to thank the public for their support of my work,” Ferretti said.

Ferretti is lead editor of the book, which covers Streptococcus pyogenes from A to Z. It is published online on the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s Bookshelf.

“Scientists have an obligation to make their findings and knowledge available to the public, through both publication in journals and teaching. They can also assume a social responsibility to the public and the world by reaching out in new ways. The National Center for Biotechnology Information Bookshelf is a perfect way to do this,” Ferretti said.

“There is no other book available that covers every single aspect of biology and medicine as it pertains to this pathogenic organism. This venue allows anyone worldwide with a computer to gain access to this information,” he said.

Leading researchers from around the world contributed to the effort, Streptococcus pyogenes: Basic Biology to Clinical Manifestations, which took almost three years to complete.

Ferretti and co-editor Vincent Fischetti of Rockefeller University began by first identifying experts in the field on every topic connected to Streptococcus pyogenes, and then asking each to contribute to the book.  It took more time to complete than originally thought, but Ferretti said he is pleased with the final result.

“This book represents a concerted effort by an international group of S. pyogenes researchers, who have generously provided their time and energy to present the current status of work in their own field of expertise,” he said. “It also is a living document and can be updated at any time in the future.”

Ferretti and colleagues hope the book will serve as a resource for the public, students, other researchers and clinicians, and that it ultimately will aid future work leading to better ways to treat and control the many diseases caused by this organism.

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