Washington: Bugs causing serious urinary tract infections stay ahead of the immune system by filching copper to prevent the metal from being used against them, says a study.Copper has been known as a potent weapon against infection for centuries. Blocking this thievery with a drug may significantly improve patients` chances of warding off infections, according to Washington University School of Medicine researchers in St. Louis.In the US alone, annual treatment costs for urinary tract infections are estimated to run as high as $1.6 billion. Most urinary tract infections (UTI) are caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), the journal Nature Chemical Biology reported."While some patients are able to clear these infections without issue, in others the infection persists or recurs despite antibiotic therapy," says senior study author Jeff Henderson, assistant professor of medicine and of molecular microbiology at Washington."In some cases, the infection spreads to the kidney or the blood and becomes life threatening. We`ve been investigating what`s different about the bacteria that cause these more trouble some infections," Henderson said, according to a university statement.Scientists have known for years that E. coli makes a molecule called yersiniabactin that takes iron from host cells. The bacteria need the iron to grow and reproduce.
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