The mechanics of UTI under a microscope

When you are suffering from urinary tract infection (UTI) symptoms, the only thing on your mind is to get rid of the problem. Nobody likes excruciating pain when peeing, a frequent urge to urinate and looming danger of the infection spreading to your kidneys. UTI symptoms are very unpleasant and once healed, patients tend not to dwell on the origin of the symptoms. Thank God for scientists who are interested enough to research the topic in hopes of finding a cure.

For a long time, treatment options were focused on fighting the offending bacteria with antibiotics (90% of UTIs are caused by E. coli). However, this strategy led to creating a superbug that is antibiotic resistant and in some cases, impossible to treat. As a result, the research efforts shifted from attempts to kill the bacteria, to efforts to disable the bug. One of the newest research projects, led by charity Antibiotic Research UK group, identified the mechanism of how the offending bugs manage to climb up into your bladder without being flushed out when you pee.

Apparently, the bacteria can “feel” the force of the urine flow when a person is urinating, and in response grip tightly to the body’s cells. What a despicable creature! After you are done peeing, E. coli will carry on moving upward into your body until it reaches the cozy bladder and establishes its temporary camp with an ultimate goal of reaching your kidneys. Drugs that target this process of gripping to the walls would not kill the microbes but just stop them from hanging on, and this approach is less likely to provoke resistance.

A new twist on treating UTI?

Scientists already know that E. coli can grip to human cells using hair-like appendages that have tiny protein hooks on their tips, but until now no one had worked out the structure of these hooks or how they interact with human cells. In a recent study, they found that when these little hooks are pulled by tensile forces – as it would be during urination – they respond by gripping tightly to the sugar molecules that coat the surface of human cells. “That makes it hard to flush it out,” says Tim Maier of the University of Basel. (Wink, wink scientists! This is exactly why D-Mannose works!).

While scientists are testing drugs that would target the grappling hooks, you can try D-Mannose that also affects the ability of E. coli to stick to your bladder cells.

 

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