A strain of E. coli that causes severe, sometimes deadly, intestinal problems relies on signals from beneficial human bacteria and a stress hormone to infect human cells, a researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas has discovered.
The finding, which will appear online today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could lead to the development of beta blockers as a therapy to impede this cellular signaling system, causing the harmful bacteria to pass blindly through the digestive tract, said Dr. Vanessa Sperandio, lead author of the study.
"You’re not really attacking the bacteria per se," said Dr. Sperandio, assistant professor of microbiology at UT Southwestern. "You are just rendering it blind. The bacteria won’t activate the virulent genes unless it knows where it is. If it can’t activate the things it needs to bind to the intestine, it will be washed away."
Rachel Horton | EurekAlert!
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