Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Letting it Out
13 July 2017

Letting it Out

Urinary tract infections are very common, tend to recur, and are treated with antibiotics. With an antibiotic crisis looming, alternative treatments are needed. A new study might provide the answer: The infections are caused when E. coli bacteria, existing harmlessly in the gut, spread to the urinary tract or bladder. The bacteria (gold), latch onto tissue walls such as the bladder lining (pictured) using microscopic hooks and refuse to be flushed away. However, a study found that they can be encouraged to bind to an artificial substance with complementary hooks rather than the tissue walls. By introducing this, the bacteria colonies in the guts of infected mice soon washed away, as they were no longer stuck to the sides. This reduces the chances of subsequent urinary tract infections, and unlike with antibiotics only the troublesome bacteria were affected, not the whole gut microbial community. That should provide some relief.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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