Public Release: 

Unlocking the secret of the bladder's bouncers

Duke University Medical Center

Durham, N.C. - Researchers at Duke University Medical Center may have a new way to stop and even prevent the urinary tract infections (UTIs) that plague more than a third of all adults, some of them repeatedly.

The researchers have discovered how cells within the bladder are able to sense the presence of E. coli bacteria hiding within compartments in the bladder's own cells. This starts a process that then kicks them out.

Knowing how the bladder's own cells sense the bacteria and what they do to expel them are both processes the Duke scientists think they can exploit to do a better job of helping the bladder protect itself. New treatments based on their findings might be able to tackle antibiotic-resistant UTIs and perhaps even bacterial infections in other parts of the body, said Soman Abraham, a professor of pathology at Duke.

The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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