Researchers trick our cells into treating UTIs without antibiotics

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For a long time, many sufferers of Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) believed that Antibiotics were the only option. Following new research, however, a super effective alternative has been discovered. This could prove to be very significant as UTI’s are among the most common infections to be treated with antibiotics. This reliance on antibiotics is contributing to the rise of drug-resistant superbugs.

Resistant superbugs to antibiotics are becoming more difficult to kill

This resistance to antibiotics is resulting in an increased level of infections becoming more and more dangerous, and it is even predicted that Gonorrhoea will be untreatable in the near future. With such fears regarding the effectiveness of antibiotics it is therefore incredibly exciting for scientists that an alternative has been discovered.

The majority of UTI’s are caused by E. coli (Escherichia coli) which enters the urinary tract and attaches itself to the cell wall of the bladder, urethra or kidneys.Through extensive research it has already been established that the bladder has many defence mechanisms which it uses in order to minimise infection. One example of its defence mechanism is when the lining of the bladder sheds frequently to ensure any bacteria can be washed out.

Unfortunately this natural process doesn’t work in all cases and if the E. coli does attach itself to the bladder wall then a painful infection will be the result.

Can our own bodies fight bladder infections

University researchers have now demonstrated – in detail – how our own bodies can fight against UTI’s without the use of antibiotics. It has been discovered that bladder cells can actually eradicate the bacteria which causes UTI’s and researchers are looking into ways in which they can use this new found information in order to treat infections. A researcher has said: "We found that the process which cells use to secrete chemicals also appears to be the way to clear urinary tract infections."

"Bacterial pathogens hide within a membranous vesicle in the bladder cells"

"We revealed that a protein complex important for secreting hormones called ‘Exocyst’ can precisely recognise and locate bacteria hiding in those vesicles, then promote transport of these bacteria-laden vesicles towards the cell surface, and throw the bacteria out of the bladder cell."

The immune system can therefore remove the bacteria through the process of bladder cells tagging these vesicles with the bacteria in side. In order to achieve this; the immune system creates lysosomes which eat and break down anything within a cell, which includes bacteria. Occasionally the bacteria will survive this process and go back to re-infect the cell. However, research has also shown that these lysosomes can detect if the bacteria which has been eaten is in the process of being broken down. The offending bacteria can then be removed via vomit, which is another way in which the immune system can act.

The researcher said: "It was thought that lysosomes always degrade their contents. Here we are showing for the first time that when the contents cannot be degraded, the lysosome appears to have a back-up plan which is to expel the contents in capsules."

Can plant extract Forskoin be the key to kill bacteria

The researcher is describing how the cells have the capability of clearing even the most stubborn of bacteria and this process can be tweaked in order to ensure it happens on or more regular basis. As an alternative to antibiotics, researchers are now exploring the possibility of medicines and other substances being able to trigger this natural clearing mechanism. It is probable that a plant extract called Forskolin will be tested soon. The researcher also said: "Previous studies from our lab have found that Forskolin can dramatically enhance the bacteria clearance effect by promoting the bacteria export process,”

"Now that we have identified the pathway which the bladder cells use to export bacteria, we can start to examine whether Forskolin enhances bacteria expulsion by promoting the function of the Exocyst and if so, how."This just proves the power of the immune system!