Navigation Links
Can cannibalism fight infections?
Date:2/2/2009

Whenever humans create a new antibiotic, deadly bacteria can counter it by turning into new, indestructible super-bugs. That's why bacterial infection is the number one killer in hospitals today. But new research from Tel Aviv University may give drug developers the upper hand in outsmarting bacteria once and for all.

The secret weapon against a colony of bacteria may be to stress it with its own protection system, which forces it to reduce its population through cannibalism.

"Our studies suggest this is a new way to fight off bacteria," says Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob, an award-winning scientist from Tel Aviv University's School of Physics and Astronomy. "If we expose the entire colony to the very same chemical signals that the bacteria produce to fend off competition, they'll do the work for us and kill each other. This strategy seems very promising it's highly unlikely that the bacteria will develop resistance to a compound that they themselves produce."

A Sophisticated Secret Weapon to Foil Attack

Cannibalism among bacteria, explains Prof. Ben-Jacob, is a strange cooperative behavior elicited under stress. In response to stressors such as starvation, heat shock and harmful chemicals, the bacteria reduce their population with a chemical that kills sister cells in the colony.

"It works in much the same way that organisms reduce production of some of their cells when under starvation," says Prof. Ben-Jacob. "But what's most interesting among bacteria is that they appear to develop a rudimentary form of social intelligence, reflected in a sophisticated and delicate chemical dialogue conducted to guarantee that only a fraction of the cells are killed."

The researchers' findings, published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, were carried out in collaboration with a group from Texas University led by Prof. Harry Swinney and his post-doctoral fellow Dr. Avraham Be'er, formerly of Tel Aviv University. Prof. Ben-Jacob believes that the discoveries offer new hope for fighting both bacterial infections of today and the super-super-bugs of the future.

In the current study, the researchers investigated what happens when two sibling colonies of bacteria --Paenibacillus dendritiformis (a special strain of social bacteria discovered by Prof. Ben-Jacob) -- are grown side by side on a hard surface with limited nutrients. Surprisingly, the two colonies not only inhibited each other from growing into the territory between them but induced the death of those cells close to the border, researchers found.

Even more interesting to the scientists was the discovery that cell death stopped when they blocked the exchange of chemical messages between the two colonies. "It looks as if a message from one colony initiates population reduction in the cells across the gap. Each colony simultaneously turns away from the course that will bring both into confrontation," says Prof. Ben-Jacob.

Getting to Know the Enemy

In only a year, bacteria can develop resistance to a new drug that may have taken years and a small fortune to develop, but drug developers haven't utilized bacteria's cooperative behavior and social intelligence yet.

Bacteria, Prof. Ben-Jacob says, know how to glean information from the environment, talk with each other, distribute tasks and generate collective memory. He believes that bacterial social intelligence, conveyed through advanced chemical language, allows bacteria to turn their colonies into massive "brains" that process information, learning from past experience to solve unfamiliar problems and better cope with new challenges.

"If we want to survive the challenges posed by bacteria, we must first recognize that bacteria are not the simple, solitary creatures of limited capabilities they were long believed to be," concludes Prof. Ben-Jacob, who is now investigating practical applications for his current research findings.


'/>"/>

Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. Preclinical study suggests organ-transplant drug may aid in lupus fight
2. Computers help chemists fight emerging infections
3. Study shines more light on benefit of vitamin D in fighting cancer
4. Texas Supreme Court Rules Against Medicare HMOs in Hospital Reimbursement Fight
5. HIV Drug Might Fight Cancer
6. ADA Challenges Marylanders to Step Out to Fight Diabetes Epidemic
7. UVa researcher awarded $3.6 million grant to fight drug-resistant bacteria
8. Drug, Pacemaker Fight Irregular Heartbeat
9. Scripps Research scientists shed new light on how antibodies fight HIV
10. The fight against colorectal cancer
11. Especially Yours and Paula Young Team up with Diahann Carroll and Jaclyn Smith in the Fight Against Breast Cancer
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Can cannibalism fight infections?
(Date:5/26/2017)... ... May 26, 2017 , ... via seating is ... back 24/7 task chair specifically designed for clinical areas. Genie Copper Mesh is ... partner with Cupron® to provide customers with a game changing chair that is ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... ... ... After raising nearly $30,000 on Kickstarter , about three-times its original campaign ... crowdfunding price on Indiegogo . , “Along with creating an anti-stress gadget to ... fidget toy to the market that was made of superior quality and wouldn’t break ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... Illinois (PRWEB) , ... May 26, 2017 , ... Silver ... The community, which is located on more than four acres of land at 5620 ... independence. , The 103,000 square-foot building includes 125 studio and one-bedroom apartments. Each ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) , ... May 26, 2017 , ... ... San Francisco, is proud to announce a new, informational blog post on insurance options. ... tooth surgery, checking insurance plans may help save time and money. Visiting an in-network ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... ... May 26, 2017 , ... “THE FLINTHILLS FAMILY-Our Journey to the Cross”: the personal journey of ... Cross” is the creation of published authors, Bob and Margaret Massey. Bob Massey is ... is "panther quick and leather tough." His love for others is apparent in all ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/23/2017)... , May 23, 2017  Leaf Healthcare, ... innovative medical devices for pressure ulcer prevention, will ... American Association of Critical Care Nurses, National Teaching ... 22-25. The Leaf Patient Monitoring System ... for the hospital environment.  The system seamlessly tracks ...
(Date:5/18/2017)... 18, 2017  Two Bayer U.S. Pharmaceutical leaders received ... its recent 28 th Woman of the ... showcases HBA,s longstanding mission of furthering the advancement and ... Cindy Powell-Steffen , senior director of brand ... and Libby Howe , a regional business manager ...
(Date:5/15/2017)... Enterin Inc., a privately-held CNS pharmaceutical company based in ... Parkinson,s disease (PD), has enrolled the first patient in the ... multicenter study involving patients with PD and taking place at ... 9-to-12-month period. The first stage is open label and involves ... include Denver , Boca Raton ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: