The Dangerous Attraction of Bacterial Vampirism to Human Blood

The Dangerous Attraction of Bacterial Vampirism to Human Blood

A recent study conducted by researchers at Washington State University and the University of Oregon has uncovered a phenomenon they describe as ‘bacterial vampirism’. This peculiar attraction refers to certain types of bacteria that are drawn to human blood, a dangerous inclination that can result in fatal infections. The team’s investigation revealed that these deadly bacteria are enticed by serum, the liquid component of our blood, due to the nutrients and energy it offers.

Individuals with irritable bowel disease (IBD) are particularly vulnerable to the threats posed by bacterial vampirism. The presence of intestinal bleeding in individuals with IBD serves as a gateway for gut bacteria to enter the bloodstream. This heightened risk amplifies the potential for severe infections and other health complications in individuals battling IBD.

The study focused on analyzing the interaction between bacteria and blood using a specialized device and a high-powered microscope. The researchers pinpointed three strains of bacteria, specifically Salmonella enterica, Escherichia coli, and Citrobacter koseri, known to cause fatal infections, as being particularly attracted to human serum. The team discovered that these bacteria possess specific protein receptors that enable them to detect and consume amino acids like serine, found in human blood.

One of the most startling revelations of the study was the swift response exhibited by the bacteria to human serum. Within less than a minute, the bacteria were able to sense the presence of blood and promptly move towards it. The researchers emphasized the robust and rapid nature of this attraction response, shedding light on the urgency and aggressiveness of bacterial vampirism.

The bacteria investigated in this study, belonging to the family Enterobacteriaceae, have been associated with gastrointestinal bleeding and sepsis, particularly in cases involving IBD. The correlation between these bacteria and internal bleeding highlights the potential for fatalities in individuals suffering from IBD. With approximately 3.1 million people in the US alone battling IBD, understanding how bacteria sense and utilize blood serum could pave the way for life-saving treatments.

Immunologist Siena Glenn, from Washington State University, emphasized the importance of developing new treatments that specifically target the ability of bacteria to detect blood sources. By unraveling the mechanisms behind bacterial vampirism, researchers aim to devise drugs that can inhibit this dangerous attraction. This targeted approach could potentially revolutionize the treatment of bloodstream infections caused by these deadly bacteria, offering hope for improved outcomes and reduced mortality rates.


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