Researchers at UTMB have discovered a way to block a disease pathway that could be a breakthrough in defeating some of the world's most devastating human infections. Rickettsioses are a group of insect-borne diseases caused by bacteria. One type, typhus fever, has been cited as a high-level threat by the National Institutes of Health because the bacteria can spread and multiply very easily, and the untreated infection can lead to death. What researchers at UTMB have found is a way to protect against what can be a fatal rickettsial infection. Their findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Even more exciting, there is preliminary evidence that the experimental drug we have identified as being effective against rickettsiae may also be effective against viruses,” says Dr. David Walker, chairman of the department of pathology at UTMB and executive director for the Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases. The news also appears in the Science Recorder and Medical Xpress.