How UTIs in women may damage kidneys

November 8, 2013
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."

Explore further: New study on UTIs suggests flagellin is key in stimulating body's natural defences

Related Stories

New study on UTIs suggests flagellin is key in stimulating body's natural defences

March 15, 2013
A new study by British scientists reveals that motile Escherichia coli isolates demonstrated significant activation of NF-κB signaling suggesting that flagellin plays a key role in up-regulating the host innate defences ...

Study: Women most often suffer urinary tract infections, but men more likely to be hospitalized

October 8, 2013
While women are far more likely to suffer urinary tract infections, men are more prone to be hospitalized for treatment, according to a study by Henry Ford Hospital urologists.

China, India travel boosts risk of antibiotic resistant cystitis

March 18, 2013
Experts have warned of the growing risk of travellers to India, China and South East Asia bringing home E.coli infections that are immune to treatment with a normal course of antibiotic tablets.

Could adaptable bacteria cause repeat urinary tract infections?

May 9, 2013
(HealthDay)—Women suffering from recurring urinary tract infections may carry a particularly hearty strain of E. coli bacteria that flourishes in both the gut and the bladder, and can migrate back and forth despite repeated ...

Antimicrobial resistance for common urinary tract infections drug increases five fold since 2000

April 30, 2012
WASHINGTON, District of Columbia (April 30, 2012) – In a surveillance study of over 12 million bacteria, investigators at The George Washington University and Providence Hospital found E. coli antimicrobial resistance ...

Nearly half of older women diagnosed with UTI not confirmed in urine culture

April 22, 2013
Older adults represent an important and growing demographic in emergency departments (ED) across the country, with urinary tract infections (UTIs) being one of the leading causes for ED visits. In fact, UTIs, which can progress ...

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 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.