How UTIs in women may damage kidneys

How UTIs in women may damage kidneys
An image of the urothelial cell layer in a live human ureter, stained with wheat germ agglutinin conjugated to Oregon Green (green) to highlight cell membranes and DAPI (blue) to show nuclei. The red spheres are endocytic vesicles.

A scientist from the Institute of Translational Medicine has been awarded a £190,000 Fellowship by Kidney Research UK to investigate how the E.coli bacteria which cause Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) move to the kidneys where they can cause considerable damage.

UTIs currently affect around half of all in the UK. A recent survey by the charity of over 1,000 women showed that over half had experienced one or more UTI during their lifetime. Of those women, 58% said they usually treat a UTI with , and almost 30% said they usually treat a UTI with over the counter medication.

Increasingly resistant

E.coli, the bacteria which cause 85% of UTI's, are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics that are currently available, meaning they may not clear an infection.

Equally worryingly, the 30% of women who are using over the counter medications to treat their UTI's are often unaware that these only mask the symptoms of the infection and do not cure it.

If the untreated UTI spreads to the upper urinary tract it can cause kidney damage.

Dr Rachel Floyd will investigate how E. coli, move to the kidneys and cause damage in the hope of finding new treatments before antibiotics become ineffective.

Previous studies have suggested that E. coli can 'hide' inside cells lining the bladder. This makes antibiotics ineffective and means the immune system doesn't respond effectively. Bacteria are not properly cleared from the bladder, which may be why some people get recurrent UTI's.

Dr Floyd will investigate if this also happens in humans using sections of ureters (the tubes that carry the urine to the bladder) from healthy people who have donated them for research.

How UTIs in women may damage kidneys
Dr Rachel Floyd: “UTIs are a growing and painful problem that affect many women around the world.”

She will also study how bacteria can affect ureter function, causing an infection to spread. This will help her to understand which characteristics of E.coli are the most important when causing infection. She will try and identify which genes are essential for to infect humans and how these genes might be targeted with a new treatment to prevent UTIs.

Invest in research

Dr Floyd said: "UTIs are a growing and painful problem that affect many women around the world. Strains of E. coli that are resistant to multiple classes of antibiotics are becoming more prevalent. There is still no real effective treatment for these types of infections. I'm hoping to be able to identify alternative treatments before all current antibiotics used to treat UTI's become completely ineffective."

Elaine Davies, Head of Kidney Research UK's Research Operations, said: "We know that E.coli are becoming more resistant to antibiotics, so it's vital we invest in research now before it's too late. If we can identify the process by which E.coli cause infections, then we stand a very real chance of being able to treat them better, therefore preventing any subsequent kidney damage."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Routines most vital in avoiding Ebola infection: WHO

4 hours ago

Meticulously following stringent routines when putting on and removing protective equipment is more important than the kind of gear health care workers use to ward off Ebola infection, the World Health Organization said Friday.

A look at latest Ebola developments

5 hours ago

No African countries are on the United Nations list of contributors to fight Ebola. With few exceptions, African governments and institutions are offering only marginal support as the continent faces its ...

Liberia opens one of largest Ebola treatment centers

6 hours ago

Remembering those who have died in the world's deadliest Ebola outbreak, Liberia's president opened one of the country's largest Ebola treatment centers in Monrovia on Friday amid hopes that the disease is ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.