Understanding how bacteria work together could lead to new ways to treat severe infections


“Know yourself; know your enemy.” – Sun Tzu. This quote is from centuries ago, but it is applicable in many ways.

One example – new research from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is understanding human infections and unlocking how bacteria work “together” which makes these infections more difficult to treat. But understanding this symbiotic relationship—knowing your enemy—can lead to better ways to treat various ailments.

This new study was recently published in the Scientific Journal eLife.

There are good bacteria and not so good bacteria. Bacteria are all around us, some providing beneficial aspects of life, but others causing infections or exacerbating diseases.”

Robert Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Research Scientist, Institute of Cell Therapy at Kiran Patel College of Allopathic Medicine (NSU MD)

Smith was the principal investigator on a research team that looked at how bacteria could work together, exacerbating disease and making treatment more difficult. Specifically, they looked at two types of bacteria that are commonly found together in infections – Staphylococcus aureus And Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Staphylococcus can be found on the skin of about 50% of the population. pseudo It can be found in the soil. However, when they meet in infections, things can go wrong.

“Most infections are caused by a single bacterium, but when bacterial species ‘cluster’, they can become more difficult to treat,” said Smith. “Infections are more severe and they can resist antibiotic treatment.

According to Smith, these bacteria linger in the wound, making the infection more severe and difficult to treat. This is especially important in individuals with cystic fibrosis where these two bacteria thrive.

“In trying to develop new ways to treat infections with these bacteria, we’ve found that how fast each bacterium grows and how much energy each bacterium has determines how they talk to each other in a wound,” Smith said. “If we can interrupt their ability to talk to each other, we may be able to devise ways to alter their growth or the amount of energy they have, which could reduce the severity of the infection and make them more susceptible to antibiotics.”

There is a lot of research to be done, Smith said, but each discovery is a step toward improving the human condition in general.


Journal reference:

Bagon, C. et al. (2023). Interactions between metabolism and growth could determine the symbiosis between Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Iliev. doi.org/10.7554/elife.83664.


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