Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Hide and Stick

Urinary tract infection-causing bacteria can make bladder cells conceal them from the immune system

02 February 2019

Hide and Stick

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) make life miserable for millions of people – mostly women – every year. More than half of women will have a UTI at some point in their life and although the infection can be treated with antibiotics, it often comes back. In the worst cases, UTIs become chronic and very difficult to treat effectively, although it’s not exactly clear why this happens. By studying the way that two different UTI-causing bacteria affect the cells that make up the lining of the bladder in mice (highlighted green and red), researchers think they have found an explanation. They’re discovered that the bugs responsible for chronic infections can engineer the cells in the bladder to make a cosy hiding place where the immune system can’t find them, leading to persistent UTIs that are resistant to antibiotics – an important insight that could lead to new ideas for preventing and treating chronic infections.

Written by Kat Arney

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