It is a tragedy of war that innocent bystanders often get caught in the crossfire. But now scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and University of Oxford have shown how a battle for survival at a microscopic level could leave humans as the unlikely victims. The researchers have found a possible explanation for why some bacteria turn nasty, even at great risk to their own survival. In a study published in Current Biology, scientists have modeled in mice how the common bacterium Streptococcus pneumonia interacts with other bacteria, showing that competition for space between rival bacteria can cause deadlier forms of bacteria to evolve.
According to co-author Jeffrey Weiser, PhD, professor of Microbiology and Pediatrics, the results could have implications for the development of new treatments and vaccines against infection. "Our study demonstrates the complex interactions among the many microbial species that live in our bodies," he says. "Usage of antibiotics and vaccines is increasingly influencing these relationships, potentially tipping the outcome of the battle between competing microbes. Our ongoing war on infectious diseases should consider the effects of microbes on one another."
For more, please read the Wellcome Trust news release:
Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.3 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 17 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $392 million awarded in the 2013 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania -- recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; Chester County Hospital; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2013, Penn Medicine provided $814 million to benefit our community.