Bald bacteria could be best bet for bladder

By • Published: April 6th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Death may not be the best sentence for some bacteria. Some bugs just keep coming back from the grave, often bigger and stronger than they were before.

That’s why researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have devised a new way to keep the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections at bay. They’re developing drugs that act as a molecular barber for bacteria, stripping away the tiny hairs that allow them to cling to the inside of your bladder.

The bacteria are sent packing, but unlike antibiotics, this new type of drug doesn’t send them to the cemetery. Scientists think by not killing the germs, there’s a better chance they won’t mutate into bigger, badder, antibiotic-resistant versions of themselves because the drug won’t actually hurt them.

Urinary tract infections are common and about half of all women will contract one at some point. Women are more susceptible to bladder infections because their urethras are shorter, making it easier for bacteria to invade. And unfortunately, one bladder infection can lead to another. Experts have blamed new bacteria for causing these additional infections, but the Washington University researchers discovered that some bugs actually never leave. Their findings show that E. Coli, the bacteria responsible for most bladder infections, can lie dormant in the urinary tract and then pop up again months or years later.

So although bald may be beautiful for bacteria some day, for now doctors say antibiotics are still the best remedy to fend off infection.