Using an approach called metabolomics that analyzes all the chemicals produced by a cell, US researchers have identified potential drug targets for bacterial strains that cause recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) (Henderson JP et al. PLoS Pathog. 2009;5:e1000305).
The strains of Escherichia coli that cause UTIs are commonly thought to originate from the gastrointestinal tract, which also harbors strains believed to aid digestion and block other microbes. To try to distinguish between pathogenic and beneficial strains, the researchers performed a metabolomic analysis of E coli cultured from stool and urine samples. They found that E coli strains in urine produced more yersiniabactin and salmochelin, compounds called siderophores that allow the bacteria to scavenge iron from their hosts.
Stephenson J. Targeting UTIs. JAMA. 2009;301(13):1329. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.430