Reagents for Diphtheria Vaccine Development
Diphtheria is caused primarily by toxigenic Corynebacterium diphtheriae strains and occasionally by toxigenic C. ulcerans and C. pseudotuberculosis strains. The acute respiratory infection caused by diphtheria is generally characterized by local growth of the bacterium in the pharynx with pseudomembrane formation. The systemic spread of diphtheria toxin (DT) then induces lesions in distant organs. Diphtheria toxin is an exotoxin produced by the pathogen that inhibits protein synthesis and causes cell death. The disease may remain manageable, but in more severe cases, lymph nodes in the neck may swell, and breathing and swallowing may become more difficult. Diphtheria can also lead to paralysis of the eyes, neck, throat, or respiratory muscles. The Centre for Disease Control recommends that infants, children, teens, and adults be vaccinated against diphtheria.