teaserbox_4097103434Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common infections that can affect the bladder the kidneys and the tubes connected to them. UTIs are caused by microbes. They can attack and infect many parts of the urinary tract, such as the urethra or even the bladder. Commonly, microbes such as E. Coli tend to be the frequent cause of these problems. As of now, researchers have discovered the mechanism behind UTIs and have isolated a certain protein they believe is responsible for the persistent infection.

UTIs are the second most common infections that adults of all ages receive. It is also more common in females than males. This is due to anatomic structures, such as the length of the urethra. Both males and females contain specific safeguards as preventative measures to ensure that infection does not occur. In males for example, prostate secretes an antibacterial substances to wash away risk of infection. Despite these safeguards, humans tend to frequently contract the infection.

As previosuly stated, E. Coli, is the most common cause in  UTIs. E. Coli  is mostly found within the small intestine, but due to its close proximity to the UT, it is more than likely the body will come in contact with it and cause an infection. It does so by using its pili to attach itself to the bladder, making it harder for it to be excreted.

Another common cause for UTIs is the inability to emptying the bladder. This allows these microbes to stay in the bladder and breed.

However, recent research has shown that there is new hope for people suffering from UTIs. Indeed, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, discovered that by isolating and reducing the FmlH protein (this is a protein located on the tip of the E.Coli pili)  could result in infrequent UTIs. The function of FmlH is however not well known.

In their experiments, researchers removed the FmIH gene that codes for the FmlH protein in E. Coli and discovered that E.Coli without the FmlH gene were around 1000 times less numerous in the bladder compared to a control group of E. Coli with the gene. It is believed that it is the FmIH  protein that allows the microbes to stay within the bladder causing inflammation. 

This research could prove beneficial to pharmaceutical companies developing drugs and vaccines that could be used in adults who are more susceptible to UTIs. This method of treatment is much better that antibacterial treatment due to the drug resistance that bacteria are now developing to antibacterial treatment.

COPYRIGHT: This article is property of We Speak Science, a non profit institution co-fonded by Dr. Detina Zalli (Harvard University) and Dr. Argita Zalli (Imperial College London). The article is written by Antonio Del Vecchio (Cornell University).


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  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024568/
  • https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/urologic-disease/urinary-tract-infections-in-adults/Pages/facts.aspx
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  • http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/files/2015/04/ecoli-1184px.jpg
  • Image adapted from: http://previewcf.turbosquid.com/Preview/2014/05/24__01_40_00/e%20coli%20forward.jpg1cdf1fc6-b518-424b-b03c-d241cc747f49Larger.jpg 
  • Image adapted from: http://www.flavanoplus.net/s/cc_images/teaserbox_4097103434.jpg?t=1452689907