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Crowdsourced Microbes Heading to Station

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In fight against infections, UIC researcher aims to scramble bacteria signals

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Rather than destroying bacteria to fight infections, a University of Illinois at Chicago researcher is trying to "tweak" their savvy communication networks and block the signals that lead to infection and disease.

Researchers have known for several decades that bacteria communicate through a process called "quorum sensing," in which colonies send messages to one another to evoke responses. Many bacteria live in "biofilms," on surfaces such as catheters or medical implants, and have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics. Biofilms are coordinated by quorum sensing.

Dr. Michael Federle, assistant professor of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy (the study of drugs from natural products) at UIC, is trying to identify chemical and peptide inhibitors that block pheromone signaling in streptococci and which could prevent bacteria from causing infections.

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