15 December 2014
Urinary tract infections (UTI) can often occur without any obvious cause, and as they become more regular, it can be harder to treat them with antibiotics.
Researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School have identified bacterial genes that help the infections spread, which could provide a new target for treating UTIs.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the findings reveal the specific genes expressed by Escherichia coli. However this bacteria, which is the most common cause of UTIs in healthy people, is becoming resistant to currently available antibiotics.
Senior study author Dr Harry Mobley, professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan Health System, said: "The next logical step is to identify and develop therapies that selectively block these UTI-specific genes."
The study, which involved 42 women, found that more than a fifth had an infection that had shown resistance to one of the two antibiotics commonly used for treatment. The team used genomic screening tools to take a deeper look at the mechanisms behind the infection.
They found newly discovered E. coli-specific genes helped protect the bacterial species from the toxic effect of metal ions the body uses to fight infection. Targeting this could be a strategy for new microbial agents, the authors state.
Posted by Jeanette Royston
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