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Med Princ Pract. 2011;20(6):497-503. doi: 10.1159/000329786. Epub 2011 Oct 4.

Coevolution and adaptation of Helicobacter pylori and the case for 'functional molecular infection epidemiology'.

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Pathogen Biology Laboratory, Department of Biotechnology, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India.


Helicobacter pylori is a major human pathogen and its transmission and epidemiology have been extensively studied; it has been found that H. pylori's prevalence and infection outcome is characterized by marked differences between the developing and the developed worlds. Recent data on genomic analyses and comparative core genome haplotyping have revealed that H. pylori has coevolved with its human host. While several studies advocate the protective effects of H. pylori colonization, it is prudent to systematically unleash the role of the strong virulence apparatus present within most H. pylori strains and to determine how to disarm them (or protect the host from the effects) if the intent is to allow it to remain a friendly organism or to use it as a vaccine delivery tool. While genotyping and phenotyping based on a few genetic markers have not provided much insight into such issues, use of replicate/chronological genomics (of virulent versus innocuous strains) coupled with functional screens in animal models is expected to be able to explain the acquisition and evolution of virulence factors of H. pylori and their discreet associations with serious clinical outcomes such as gastric cancer.

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