Cutting-edge bacteria research leads to more effective treatment of complex infections

May 14, 2013

Bacteria are life forms, which, like all other life forms, struggle for the best living conditions for themselves. Therefore they will try to avoid getting attacked by the human immune system, and therefore they have developed various ways to protect themselves from the human immune system. When safe from the immune system, they can focus on breeding and multiplying, and if they become numerous enough, the human body will experience their presence as an infection. Some bacteria are relatively harmless, while others are fatal. The bacteria avoid being attacked by the human immune system by forming a biofilm - a surface to protect them against the immune system.

"The biofilm contributes to , and that can cause severe, persistent infections around heart valve implants and in lungs and the urinary tract," explains postdoc. Mikkel Girke Jørgensen from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Southern Denmark. Together with professor Poul Valentin-Hansen from the same institution and scientists from American Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, and Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington DC, he stands behind the .

The researchers now understand the underlying regulatory mechanisms behind the formation of biofilms. The mechanism involves small , which can affect bacterial gene expression and thus the decision of whether to form biofilm or not.

Bacteria can move by using their so-called flagella to swim with. When they need to form biofilms, they "turn off" the flagella, stop moving and start to form a biofilm.

"We have now established what decides whether they swim or not - and that determines whether they form biofilms or not," explains Mikkel Girke Jørgensen and continues:

"Prospects for the pharmaceutical industry are huge. This increased understanding of biofilm formation may be the first step in creating new ways to treat complicated infections in the future. "

Explore further: New knowledge about host-virus coevolution unmasked from the genomic record

More information: The researchers' work is published in the prestigious journal Genes and Development, 15 May 2013, Vol 27, No. 10.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study reveals secrets of bacterial slime

Apr 12, 2013

(Phys.org) —Newcastle University scientists have revealed the mechanism that causes a slime to form, making bacteria hard to shift and resistant to antibiotics.

Recommended for you

Devising a way to count proteins as they group

9 hours ago

A new study from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and University of California Berkeley researchers reports on an innovative theoretical methodology to solve "the counting problem," which is key to understanding ...

Mysteries of 'molecular machines' revealed

9 hours ago

"Inside each cell in our bodies and inside every bacterium and virus are tiny but complex protein molecules that synthesize chemicals, replicate genetic material, turn each other on and off, and transport ...

Bacteria are wishing you a Merry Xmas

15 hours ago

A bacterium has been used to wish people a Merry Xmas. Grown by Dr Munehiro Asally, an Assistant Professor at the University of Warwick, the letters used to spell MERRY XMAS are made of Bacillus subtilis, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.