St. Jude researchers look to copper to kill pneumonia bacteria - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

St. Jude researchers look to copper to kill pneumonia bacteria

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On average, a new discovery is shared by St. Jude every 11 hours. Your donations are what help scientists explore the next big research ideas. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5) On average, a new discovery is shared by St. Jude every 11 hours. Your donations are what help scientists explore the next big research ideas. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC) - While the world's leading doctors at St. Jude are treating patients, researchers are looking for new ways to keep patients healthy during their fight.

Michael Johnson is on the front lines.

"Currently I work on a bacteria called streptococcus pneumonia," said Johnson, a St. Jude postdoctoral fellow.

Pneumonia claims the lives of more than 1.5 million children every year worldwide. Streptococcus pneumonia is also a leading cause of ear infections and meningitis.

"So it's a very prevalent bacteria as far as causing harm to children," Johnson noted.

Michael Johnson and his team are looking for ways to kill that bacteria. The key ingredient? Copper.

"Turns out your body actually uses copper to kill bacteria," added Johnson.

Whether that copper comes from vitamins or your diet, think seafood, fruits and even chocolate, the researchers in the lab at St. Jude track how the copper blocks bacteria from growing. The results of the study will be shared with doctors around the world.

"The cures that we do here aren't just for the kids, I mean they're for everybody," said Johnson. "We publish what we - all that information - out so that everybody can use that."

On average, a new discovery is shared by St. Jude every 11 hours. Your donations are what help scientists explore the next big research ideas.

"You know when we do an experiment, when we buy a piece of equipment that can streamline our research to help more people those machines, those reagents, that equipment......it costs money."

Money raised from the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway is an integral part of fulfilling Danny Thomas' dream that no child should die in the dawn of life.

"Being here I really feel like I'm making a difference," said Johnson. "The money that we get from the Dream Home giveaway is that support that allows St. Jude to swing for the fences."

Tickets have sold out, but you can still make a donation to St. Jude by calling 1-800-224-6681.

Copyright 2014 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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