Antibiotic Resistance in UTIs Explained

December 29, 2014

The genes expressed by a common bacteria that causes UTIs protect the bacteria from the process the body uses to fight the infection, new research shows.

As the bacterium most often found in urinary tract infections (UTIs) becomes resistant to antibiotics, researchers are seeking a new target for treating the infections.

Scientists at the University of Michigan Medical School say they have found the specific genes expressed by the Escherichia coli bacteria that is most frequently the cause of UTIs in otherwise healthy women. In identifying the E coli-specific genes, the researchers say they can now focus on developing new therapies to fight UTI caused by E coli.

Key Points:

- Researchers have identified the E coli-specific genes that are commonly found in UTIs.

- The genomic sequencing points to why many common antibiotics are not working to treat common UTIs and offers insight into how to develop new, more effective therapies.

For the study, the researchers evaluated the bacterium of 42 women with UTI. Of those women, 7.7% had infections that were resistant to ciprofloxacin and 15.3% did not respond to trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole.

To the surprise of the scientists, the E coli genes appeared to be protecting the bacterium from the toxic effects of the metal ions that the body uses to fight infection. That means that the next steps should focus on blocking this protective function by identifying new microbial agents for potential therapies, the authors said.

While helpful in designing new translational research, this latest study does not have direct clinical applications. The findings were published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.