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UH engineering professors featured in consecutive issues of Science
Date:10/22/2010

g on oceangoing vessels that the U.S. military counteracts with often-toxic compounds. In hospitals, they are implicated in up to 80 percent of all non-specific infections.

This research provides insight into how biofilms form and offers a possible method of combating them. The chemistry of a surface, for instance, could be changed to reduce the ability of pili to stick to it, or the surface could be made rougher or smoother in a way that hinders bacteria movement and biofilm formation. Conrad said this work shows that how individual bacteria move on a surface impacts the structure of the biofilm they form. So, designing surfaces that change how bacteria are able to move might be a very directed and rational way of preventing biofilm formation.

Rimer's article was published in the Oct. 15 issue of Science and was featured on the magazine's cover. He conducted this work as a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Michael Ward at New York University's Molecular Design Institute.

This research explores two possible drug targets for combating a rare type of kidney stone. While roughly 10 percent of the country suffers from calcium-based stones, some 20,000 people in the United States have stones caused by a genetic disorder causing a buildup of the amino acid L-cystine. These kidney stones form more frequently than calcium-based stones and are far more debilitating, with most patients requiring regular dialysis and unable to work. The common prescriptions for L-cystine stones include restriction of dietary sodium and protein intake, high fluid intake and medications that react with L-cystine to form more soluble molecules yet have troubling and sometimes serious side effects.

In the article, Rimer and his colleagues outline the effectiveness of two molecules, known as "tailored growth inhibitors," in preventing the growth of L-cystine-based crystals. Rimer's research showed the inhibitors resulted in a 1000-fold decrease in
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Contact: Lisa Merkl
lkmerkl@uh.edu
713-743-8192
University of Houston
Source:Eurekalert  

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UH engineering professors featured in consecutive issues of Science
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