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Researcher Brenda McManus is leading a microbiology study to better understand periodontal disease and foot ulcers in patients with diabetes.

She explains her microbial research by discussing

  • How Staphylococcus aureus links molecular biology, periodontal disease, and foot ulcers;
  • Why patients with diabetes are immunologically prone to these microbial vulnerabilities; and
  • How she’s identifying if the staph in the nose cavity is the same as that in the foot and next steps to find if it travels through the bloodstream or through contact.

Dr. Brenda McManus is an Experimental Officer in Microbiology in the School of Dental Science at Trinity College in Dublin. She talks about her microbiology study involving dental health, foot ulcers, and diabetes with a focus on Staphylococci species. They’ve found bacteria in foot ulcers that “shouldn’t be there,” and these same bacteria are present in periodontal disease.

She establishes why patients who suffer from diabetes struggle with foot ulcers and periodontal disease, from such reasons as poor circulation or nerve damage from excess glucose.  This means they can’t feel an injury to the foot or can’t feel pain when a wound is developing. 

In addition, bacteria in periodontal disease can cause pockets in the gums and swelling and can ultimately lead to tooth loss. It is twice as common and more severe in people who have diabetes. She mentions additional research showing links between periodontal disease and other diseases throughout the body including heart and kidney disease. She describes her current research and says her team is comparing genomic sequences of different staph samples from the mouth, fingers, toes, and more, identifying which species are in each site.

She adds that if they identify the same species in all the different sites, they will compare the isolate genomes. If they are the same, that would be very strong evidence that there is a link between these sites. She describes next steps, therapeutic goals, and the importance of awareness of periodontal health and disease prevention.

For more, see her information on the Trinity College website,, and find her on Research Gate and LinkedIn.

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