Disrupting bacterial binding to treat infections

Mattosaurus [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) present a substantial health problem for women, particularly when infections are chronic, recurrent or recalcitrant because of pathogenic mechanisms or antibiotic resistance. In the US, about 15 million women suffer from UTIs each year; 20–40% of women experience recurring infections. Healthcare costs associated with UTIs exceed $2.5 billion per year in the US, according to one estimate. Most UTIs (85% or more) are caused by uropathogenic strains of Escherichia coli. The bacteria enter the urinary tract and use a special fiber called a pilus to attach to the epithelial cells and to each other, forming intracellular bacterial communities. These attachments protect bacteria from host defenses and from antibiotics, contributing to recurrent infections and antibiotic resistance. UTIs are commonly treated with the antibiotic trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMZ), but drug-resistant uropathogens are increasing in prevalence and distribution, making UTI a growing public health concern. There is a pressing need for new, effective treatments that neither suffer from nor contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Lab Anim. (NY) 41, 6 (2012).
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