Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Alzheimer's research sheds light on potential treatments for urinary tract infections

27.11.2009
Research into Alzheimer's disease seems an unlikely approach to yield a better way to fight urinary tract infections (UTIs), but that's what scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and elsewhere recently reported.

One element links the disparate areas of research: amyloids, which are fibrous, sticky protein aggregates. Some infectious bacteria use amyloids to attach to host cells and to build biofilms, which are bacterial communities bound together in a film that helps resist antibiotics and immune attacks. Amyloids also form in the nervous system in Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and many other neurodegenerative disorders.

To probe amyloids' contributions to neurodegenerative diseases, scientists altered potential UTI-fighting compounds originally selected for their ability to block bacteria's ability to make amyloids and form biofilms. But when they brought the compounds back to UTI research after the neurology studies, they found the changes had also unexpectedly made them more effective UTI treatments.

"Thanks to this research, we have evidence for the first time that we may be able to use a single compound to impair both the bacteria's ability to start infections and their ability to defend themselves in biofilms," says senior author Scott J. Hultgren, Ph.D., the Helen L. Stoever Professor of Molecular Microbiology at Washington University.

The findings were reported online in Nature Chemical Biology.

The National Institutes of Health has estimated that over 80 percent of microbial infections are caused by bacteria growing in a biofilm, according to Hultgren. Scientists in Hultgren's laboratory have worked for decades to understand the links between biofilms and UTIs.

"UTIs occur mainly in women and cause around $1.6 billion in medical expenses every year in the United States," says co-lead author Jerome S. Pinkner, laboratory manager for Hultgren. "We think it's likely that women who are troubled by recurrent bouts of UTIs are actually being plagued by a single persistent infection that hides in biofilms to elude treatment."

Co-lead author Matthew R. Chapman, Ph.D., now associate professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at the University of Michigan, was a postdoctoral fellow in Hultgren's lab in 2002 when he discovered that the same bacterium that causes most UTIs, Escherichia coli, deliberately makes amyloids. The amyloids go into fibers known as curli that are extruded by the bacteria to strengthen the structures of biofilms.

To treat UTIs, Hultgren's lab has been working with Fredrik Almqvist, Ph.D., a chemist at the University of Umea in Sweden, to develop compounds that block bacteria's ability to make curli, disrupting their ability to make biofilms and leaving them more vulnerable to antibiotics or immune system attacks. Almqvist recently suggested altering a group of the most promising curli-blockers to see if they could also block the processes that form amyloids in Alzheimer's disease.

The alterations worked: In laboratory tests, the new compounds prevented the protein fragment known as amyloid beta from aggregating into amyloid plaques like those found in the brain in Alzheimer's disease. When scientists took the new compounds back to a mouse model of UTIs, though, they received a surprise. The altered compounds were better at reducing the virulence of infections, inhibiting not only curli formation but also the formation of a second type of bacterial fibers, the pili.

"Pili aren't made of amyloids, but they are essential to both biofilms and to the bacteria's ability to initiate an infection," Hultgren says.

Hultgren and colleagues are already developing even more potent infection and amyloid fighters, screening a library of thousands of chemicals similar to the most promising compounds from the study.

Chapman cautions that it's too early to tell which, if any, of the compounds will be helpful in treating neurodegenerative diseases.

"Much neurodegenerative drug development has focused on ways to break up amyloids or prevent them from forming, but because amyloids may also be an important part of normal cellular physiology, we need to identify molecules that will target only the toxic amyloid state," he says.

Cegelski L, Pinkner JS, Hammer ND, Cusumano CK, Hung CS, Chorell E, Aberg V, Walker JN, Seed PC, Almqvist F, Chapman MR, Hultgren SJ. Small-molecule inhibitors target Escherichia coli amyloid biogenesis and biofilm formation. Nature Chemical Biology, published online.

Washington University School of Medicine's 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked third in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Michael C. Purdy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wustl.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>