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WPI research shows how cranberry juice fights bacteria at the molecular level
Date:7/15/2010

WORCESTER, Mass. -- Revealing the science behind the homespun advice, a team of researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has identified and measured the molecular forces that enable cranberry juice to fight off urinary tract infections in people.

The data is reported in the paper "Direct adhesion force measurements between E. coli and human uroepithelial cells in cranberry juice cocktail," which was published on-line, ahead of print, by the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. The research illuminates the basic mechanics of E.coli infections, which has implications for developing new antibiotic drugs and infection-resistant materials for invasive medical devices.

The research team led by Terri Camesano, professor of chemical engineering at WPI, focuses on the virulent form of E. coli bacteria that is the primary cause of most urinary tract infections. This strain of E. coli is covered with small hair-like projections known as fimbriae, which act like hooks and latch onto cells that line the urinary tract. When enough of the virulent E. coli adhere to cells in this way, they cause an infection. Previous work by Camesano has shown that exposure to cranberry juice causes the fimbriae on E. coli to curl up, reducing their ability to attach to urinary tract cells. In the new study, Camesano's team presents the first specific measurements of the mechanical forces involved in the attachment of the virulent E. coli to human urinary tract cells. The study also documents how the force of attachment is reduced in the presence of cranberry juice cocktail. "This is not a clinical studyit's a mechanical study that shows us the direct forces that can lead to infection," Camesano said.

To make measurements at the molecular level, Camesano's team developed a method to attach a single E. coli cell to the tip of a probe mounted on a device called an atomic force micro
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Contact: Michael Cohen
mcohen@wpi.edu
508-868-4778
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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