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:5/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 24, 2016 , ... Sterling Global ... feature a unique and patented refillable hanging wipe dispenser. The campaign kick-off video is ... and will end June 25, 2016. The goal is to raise $1,000 per day ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... ... , ... To better understand the impact of lung cancer in women, the ... lung cancer. Today, the Lung Association announced Sharad Goyal, MD , as the recipient ... the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative, which raises awareness of the impact of ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... ... May 24, 2016 , ... ... corporate identity and website at its “Transforming Outcomes” User Conference in Las Vegas ... reflect i2i’s ongoing success to set the market standard for meaningful population health ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... ... May 24, 2016 , ... ... of communication enabled solutions and managed services today announced a strategic partnership ... enterprise contact center market. , Altura, one of Avaya’s largest Platinum Business ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 24, 2016 , ... How to ... · Raleigh, NC, http://www.fdanews.com/humanerrordrugdevice , Human error is known to be the ... that human error will ever be totally eliminated, many human performance problems can be ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/24/2016)... HONG KONG , May 24, 2016 ... , the world , s ... and AV fistula intervention   OrbusNeich, a ... solutions, has expanded its portfolio to include products to ... balloons are the company,s first entry devices for lower ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... 2016 Les ... la première endoprothèse à double thérapie au ... portant sur les membres inférieurs et la ... entreprise mondiale spécialisée dans la fourniture de ... a élargi son portefeuille pour inclure des ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... May 24, 2016 Dutch surgeons have launched ... around the world and treat patients on a global scale. Medical ... , Asia and the US have already ... messaging and networking in a totally secure environment. Education  ... war zone working together with a surgeon at Harvard to treat ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: