Biomedical Laboratory Science

Monday, March 26, 2018

Microbes That Cause UTIs Use Hooks to Hold On While We Pee

Urinary tract infections are typically caused by a bacterium that somehow manages to creep its way into the bladder, despite the intense pressures exerted by urination. It turns out these microbes use hooks to cling on in desperation while we pee.

As anyone who has ever had a UTI knows, such infections are supremely uncomfortable. They are caused by the intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli,which makes its way from from the urethra to the bladder. Nearly one in every two women will experience a UTI at some point during her life, but men can get them too (though less frequently).

Scientists have wondered how these microbes are capable of withstanding urinary flow, but new research from the University of Babel and ETH Zurich shows these tiny critters have evolved a rather clever trick in the form of built-in grappling hooks.

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