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'Bacterial vampirism': Deadly bacteria are drawn towards human blood, finds study

A new study claims that deadly bacteria have developed a taste for human blood. A team at Washington State University (WSU) discovered the phenomenon known as "bacterial vampirism," in which bacteria are attracted to the liquid part of the blood, or serum.

Written by  Shgun S -- April 17th 2024 03:40 PM
'Bacterial vampirism': Deadly bacteria are drawn towards human blood, finds study

'Bacterial vampirism': Deadly bacteria are drawn towards human blood, finds study

PTC News Desk: A new study claims that deadly bacteria have developed a taste for human blood. A team at Washington State University (WSU) discovered the phenomenon known as "bacterial vampirism," in which bacteria are attracted to the liquid part of the blood, or serum. 

According to the study, such traits are found in bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli, which cause foodborne illnesses. Its goal is to shed light on why these microorganisms can move so easily from the gut to the bloodstream, where they can be deadly.


The findings have been published in the journal eLife.

"We discovered that some of the bacteria that most commonly cause bloodstream infections detect a chemical in human blood and swim towards it," Arden Baylink, a professor at WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine and research author, told NBC News.

The researchers found that the bacteria appeared to be particularly drawn to serine, an amino acid found in human blood and a common ingredient in protein drinks.

Researchers simulated intestinal bleeding by injecting microscopic amounts of human serum and observing the bacteria travel to the source. It took the microorganisms less than a minute to find the serum.

Bacteria such as Salmonella have special receptors on their surfaces that allow them to detect a specific chemical found in human blood, the researchers discovered.

"By learning how these bacteria are able to detect sources of blood, in the future we could develop new drugs that block this ability," WSU PhD Student Siena Glenn and lead author of the study said.

The bacteria used in the study are known as multidrug-resistant Enterobacteriaceae pathogens, and they are classified as "priority pathogens" by the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

- With inputs from agencies

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