Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A step forward in the fight against bacterial infections


Bacterial infections can strike anyone, and they can sometimes be fatal. Because more and more bacteria are becoming resistant to the pre-eminent remedy - antibiotics - the search for new remedies against bacterial infections is in high gear. Research by scientists from the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) connected to Ghent University shows that certain mice, by nature, can withstand particular bacterial infections. Elucidation of the biological process that underlies this natural ability offers perspectives for the development of new therapeutics.

A cascade of reactions protects us against infections

Most of the time, our body can overcome bacterial infections. Only a limited number of bacteria can make us sick, but sometimes they can be fatal. In the US, about 200,000 people die from bacterial infections each year. Normally, our natural immune system bars bacteria from entering our body, or it renders them harmless. The aggressiveness of the bacteria, our general state of health, and the speed with which our immune system reacts determine whether or not we become sick after contact with a bacterium.

Upon contact with a bacterium, or a bacterial component, the immune system springs into action. One such component of the bacterial cell wall is LPS. The binding of LPS with its specific receptor in our immune system - TLR4 - initiates a long series of reactions that bring on an inflammation, which eliminates the bacteria from our body. Of course, this chain of reactions is strictly controlled, because excessive inflammation can lead to lethal shock.

Mice that are able to cope with acute inflammations

Tina Mahieu and her colleagues from the research group led by Claude Libert are working with mice that are not susceptible to toxic LPS. The VIB researchers have discovered the mechanism behind this insensitivity.

One of the steps in the process of inflammation following contact with LPS is a profuse production of type 1 interferons. These proteins play an important role in the regulation of immunity. The Ghent researchers administered 10 times the lethal dose of LPS to the mutant mice, without deadly consequences. This finding could not be attributed to an alteration in TLR4, but to a reduced production of type 1 interferons. To verify this, Mahieu and her colleagues administered these interferons preventatively to the mice - which made the animals susceptible to LPS once again. Thus, this research shows that the mice are no longer able to produce large quantities of type 1 interferons - with the consequence that an inflammation fails to arise, demonstrating the importance of type 1 interferons to the inflammation process. On the other hand, the mice produce just enough interferons to activate the immune system against the bacteria, so that the mice are protected against bacterial infections.

Another step forward in the battle against bacterial infections

The results of this research are very relevant to the quest for new therapeutics for bacterial infections. The mutant mice display a combination of important characteristics: they are resistant to LPS, but they still recognize and destroy pathogens. The limited quantity of type 1 interferons enables the mice to cope with a lethal shock resulting from inflammation, but this small quantity also ensures that immunity is preserved. A next step in combating bacterial infections is to uncover the mechanism behind this reduced production.

Ann Van Gysel | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>