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A step forward in the fight against bacterial infections

Bacterial infections can strike anyone, and they can sometimes be fatal. Because more and more bacteria are becoming resistant to the pre-eminent remedy; antibiotics; the search for new remedies against bacterial infections is in high gear. Research by scientists from the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) connected to Ghent University shows that certain mice, by nature, can withstand particular bacterial infections. Elucidation of the biological process that underlies this natural ability offers perspectives for the development of new therapeutics.

A cascade of reactions protects us against infections

Most of the time, our body can overcome bacterial infections. Only a limited number of bacteria can make us sick, but sometimes they can be fatal. In the US, about 200,000 people die from bacterial infections each year. Normally, our natural immune system bars bacteria from entering our body, or it renders them harmless. The aggressiveness of the bacteria, our general state of health, and the speed with which our immune system reacts determine whether or not we become sick after contact with a bacterium.

Upon contact with a bacterium, or a bacterial component, the immune system springs into action. One such component of the bacterial cell wall is LPS. The binding of LPS with its specific receptor in our immune system − TLR4 − initiates a long series of reactions that bring on an inflammation, which eliminates the bacteria from our body. Of course, this chain of reactions is strictly controlled, because excessive inflammation can lead to lethal shock.

Mice that are able to cope with acute inflammations

Tina Mahieu and her colleagues from the research group led by Claude Libert are working with mice that are not susceptible to toxic LPS. The VIB researchers have discovered the mechanism behind this insensitivity.

One of the steps in the process of inflammation following co
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Source:VIB, Flanders Interuniversity Institute of Biotechnology


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