JAN 04, 2022 6:00 AM PST

Scientists Win a Game of Bacterial Hide-And-Seek

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandes

When infection strikes, antibiotics are the go-to solution to help patients regain control from the invading bacterial pathogens. However, antibacterial drugs aren’t always 100 percent protective—even after getting better, some patients end up experiencing an infection relapse down the line.

Scientists have been trying to figure out infectious bacteria’s survival strategy: how do these microorganisms escape antibiotic therapies and immune attacks, only to reemerge when the coast is clear?

Dirk Bumann and colleagues at the University of Basel say the question isn’t so much ‘how’ as ‘where’. The team discovered that bacteria such as Salmonella have safe zones in the body where they can remain hidden.

According to Bumann, one in every 100 bacteria survives after a course of antibiotics. The challenge is finding their hiding spots, which Bumann said is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

However, the researchers had a powerful experimental tool on their side, an imaging technology known as serial two-photon tomography. This technique enables scientists to obtain incredibly detailed, high-resolution images of tissues, layer by layer. The image slices are then consolidated to construct a three-dimensional view of the most intricate of tissues. In doing so, scientists can shine a spotlight on exactly where surviving bacteria are concealed.

The researchers used two-photon tomography to visualize the spleens of mice infected with Salmonella. The bacteria within the red pulp region of the spleen are typically eradicated with antibiotics. Interestingly, some bacteria were found to sneak into the spleen’s white pulp or lymphatic tissue.

“It’s ironic that pathogens hide in the body exactly where they should be caught as the culprit and an effective defense against them should be activated,” commented Bumann.

Armed with these new insights, Bumann and colleagues propose that boosting the immune system with immunotherapies may help stimulate neutrophils—immune cells that can help facilitate the clearance of bacteria to prevent possible relapses.

About the Author
PhD
Interested in health technology and innovation.
You May Also Like
FEB 06, 2022
Health & Medicine
COVID-19 Nasal Spray Vaccines in the Making
FEB 06, 2022
COVID-19 Nasal Spray Vaccines in the Making
Bharat Biotech, a biotechnology company in India, is expected to be the first to offer a COVID-19 nasal spray vaccine wi ...
MAR 02, 2022
Immunology
Bacteria in the Lungs Can Impact Immune Cells in the Brain
MAR 02, 2022
Bacteria in the Lungs Can Impact Immune Cells in the Brain
Research has revealed that nearly the entire human body has been colonized by microbes. While studies have shown just ho ...
MAR 11, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
A Cost-Effective Universal Screening Program for Type 1 Diabetes
MAR 11, 2022
A Cost-Effective Universal Screening Program for Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) describes a disorder that presents when the pancreas cannot produce insulin, a hormone needed to r ...
MAR 07, 2022
Neuroscience
Drinking Milk Aggravates Multiple Sclerosis
MAR 07, 2022
Drinking Milk Aggravates Multiple Sclerosis
A protein found in cow’s milk can trigger inflammation in the surrounding areas of neurons in mice, and may have i ...
APR 22, 2022
Immunology
How Diet Affects Your Immune System
APR 22, 2022
How Diet Affects Your Immune System
Our immune system plays a vital role in our bodies, as it is literally responsible for keeping us healthy and free of ha ...
APR 28, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Keto Molecule Shows Promise for Treating Colorectal Cancer
APR 28, 2022
Keto Molecule Shows Promise for Treating Colorectal Cancer
A molecule produced when on low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets suppresses the growth of colorectal tumors in the lab. The ...
Loading Comments...