Treatments for urinary infections leave bacteria bald, happy and vulnerable

enetic mutation that allows it to survive," Pinkner explains. "We think that pilicides will greatly reduce the pressure to develop resistance and have already shown in the lab that they have no effect on E. coli's growth or metabolic state."

Pinkner notes that all Gram-negative bacteria, including Yersinia pesitis (plague), Salmonella, and Klebsiella pneumoniae (pneumonia and burn and urinary tract infections) make pili and may be susceptible to the same treatments. Keeping the target of the drug specifically aimed at a virulence factor not essential for growth reduces the chances for general resistance to spread, Pinkner asserts. He also notes that such drugs will have fewer effects on bacteria that benefit the host by contributing to healthy human physiology.

"For example, there are bacteria in the intestinal tract that aid in metabolism and the normal function of the intestine, which also helps prevent this niche from being occupied by pathogenic bacteria," he explains. "Given the rise in antibiotic resistance, it is critical to design antimicrobials for the future that target the bad bacteria but leave the good ones alone."


Contact: Michael Purdy
Washington University School of Medicine

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