- News Home
5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
Battle of the Bugs
21 July 2005 (All day)
The inside of our nose resembles a crowded subway car at rush hour. Millions of microbes jostle for seats, but only a select few will get settled. Now scientists have uncovered a clever mechanism by which Haemophilus influenzae, a bug that commonly instigates childhood sinus infections, uses the body's immune response to crush its competition.
Our bodies tolerate a wide range of resident microbes, but when these bugs grow out of control, the immune system hits them with a slew of fighter cells. Haemophilus and its rival, the pneumonia-causing Streptococcus bacteria, compete for the same niche in children's noses. Therefore, researchers surmised that there must be some push and pull between the two organisms for one to eventually prevail over the other, as happens during an infection.
Jeffrey Weiser and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia turned to mice to figure out how this happens. Until now, scientists thought that, given a head-to-head battle, Strep would win out; that's what always seemed to happen in the Petri dish. But when the team grew the bugs together in mouse nasal passages, the mouse's immune cells killed off the Streptococcus strain. The team went on to show that Haemophilus somehow recruited host immune cells, called neutrophils, to the site of colonization. These cells specifically targeted and eliminated the Streptococcus bacteria but left its competitor relatively intact, the researchers report in an upcoming issue of the Public Library of Science journal PloS Pathogens.
This is very important data that shows how a host's response can influence bacterial colonization, says David Briles, a microbiologist from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. But these are probably very specific responses, he cautions, so what you see in mice may not be exactly what you see in people.
Weiser's Web site