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: Two-armed control of ATR, a master regulator of the DNA damage checkpoint

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

Japanese scientist resigns over stem cell scandal

21 hours ago

A researcher embroiled in a fabrication scandal that has rocked Japan's scientific establishment said Friday she would resign after failing to reproduce results of what was once billed as a ground-breaking study on ...

'Hairclip' protein mechanism explained

Dec 18, 2014

Research led by the Teichmann group on the Wellcome Genome Campus has identified a fundamental mechanism for controlling protein function. Published in the journal Science, the discovery has wide-ranging implications for bi ...

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.