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: How plant cell compartments change with cell growth

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

How plant cell compartments change with cell growth

22 hours ago

A research team led by Kiminori Toyooka from the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science has developed a sophisticated microscopy technique that for the first time captures the detailed movement of ...

Plants can 'switch off' virus DNA

22 hours ago

A team of virologists and plant geneticists at Wageningen UR has demonstrated that when tomato plants contain Ty-1 resistance to the important Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV), parts of the virus DNA ...

A better understanding of cell to cell communication

23 hours ago

Researchers of the ISREC Institute at the School of Life Sciences, EPFL, have deciphered the mechanism whereby some microRNAs are retained in the cell while others are secreted and delivered to neighboring ...

A glimpse at the rings that make cell division possible

Aug 22, 2014

Forming like a blown smoke ring does, a "contractile ring" similar to a tiny muscle pinches yeast cells in two. The division of cells makes life possible, but the actual mechanics of this fundamental process ...

User comments : 0