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Battling Bacteria in the Blood: U-M Researchers Tackle Deadly Infections
Date:11/11/2008

bacterial infection, while mice that didn't receive the drug were able to clear the infection from their bloodstream. The model successfully showed the same outcome.

An important part of bloodstream infections associated with catheters is the clumping-together of bacteria on surfaces - which is also seen in urinary catheters that cause many thousands of infections each year. But clumping that occurs within the bloodstream itself is also important since it may help bacteria become more vulnerable to immune system response.

The paper in the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology describes a model of this process - known as flocculation - and sets the stage for further study of treatments that might accelerate clumping or make the clumps more stable. That, in turn, might help the body fight off infection more effectively.

Younger and his team have more research to do before their models yield results that might affect human treatment. But already, they are seeing the potential for how to improve the models and use them to simulate different aspects of human bacteremia and sepsis.

"We're trying to understand the rules for how bacteria traffic in the bloodstream - and if you understand the timing of those events you might be able to better understand how best to detect the bloodstream infection when it's present," he says. "We're also working on ways to fundamentally change the rules of engagement between the bacteria and the host. There are mechanical features at play in terms of getting these bacteria in flowing blood out. If we can change the mechanics of that interaction, then we can potentially have a therapy that the bacteria don't really have an opportunity to defend against or develop resistance against. And that could be a useful therapy."

The research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U-M Center for Computational Medicine and Biology.


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SOURCE University of Michigan Health System
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