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University of Toronto researchers identify how food-borne disease spreads between cells

University of Toronto researchers are part of an international team which has uncovered a previously unknown mechanism that plays an important role in the spread of listeria, the trigger behind the food-borne disease listeriosis, which caused a deadly outbreak in Canada in the summer of 2008.

Working in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Central Florida and the University of Würzburg in Germany, U of T Prof. Scott Gray-Owen (Department of Molecular Genetics) and his team discovered a previously unknown way in which the disease is carried from cell to cell. Their findings are published in the current edition of Nature Cell Biology.

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium linked to food processing plants, and which can be especially debilitating or fatal for people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women. The disease moves swiftly from cell-to-cell via finger-like structures formed as the bacteria pushes out from inside one human cell to pierce into the adjacent cells.

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