“Bug Wars” Take Place in Cystic Fibrosis

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In patients who have cystic fibrosis, scientists have found that respiratory bugs interact with each other in their body. Such kind of “bug wars” between bacterial pathogens can lead to serious infections. These findings may shed light on new antibacterial treatments.



What is cystic fibrosis?


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease that causes infections in the lungs, digestive system and other organs.


In ordinary people, the body produces thin and slippery mucus. But in people with CF, the body produces sticky and thick mucus, which can limit the ability to breathe over time. Patients with this condition are more likely to have a shorter life span than healthy people.



Bacteria fight with each other in CF patients


It is a common thing for bacteria to fight and interact with others in patients with CF. Such interactions can cause severer infections in patients.


In order to investigate their interactions more clearly, the researcher took two bacterial species Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) as examples and create a system to grow them together.



When P. aeruginosa grow freely without S. aureus, they multiply and flock together. When P. aeruginosa grow freely with S. aureus, however, they move quickly as single cells in the direction of S. aureus. Once P. aeruginosa reach the group of S. aureus, they dismantle they like a strong army destroying a weak one.


This may because S. aureus can produce substances that make P. aeruginosa move more actively. In addition, when grown with other bacteria, the researchers also found that P. aeruginosa move more actively.


As the old saying goes, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles," understanding how bacteria interact with each other can help scientists better learning how to control them and thus treat infection and CF.


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A friend of mine died of CF. We used to be close. He suffered a lot, he couldn't breathe, he had malnutrition and he was skinny. It'll be helpful to people like my friend and their family if they can find a cure.