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Shape Matters: The Corkscrew Twist of H. Pylori

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100527122147.htm

Excerpt:

ScienceDaily (Aug. 16, 2010) — The bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which lives in the human stomach and is associated with ulcers and gastric cancer, is shaped like a corkscrew, or helix. For years researchers have hypothesized that the bacterium’s twisty shape is what enables it to survive — and thrive — within the stomach’s acid-drenched environment, but until now they have had no proof.

For the first time, researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have found that, at least when it comes to H. pylori‘s ability to colonize the stomach, shape indeed matters. Microbiologist Nina Salama, Ph.D., and colleagues report their findings May 28 in Cell.

Salama and colleagues are the first to demonstrate that the bug’s helical shape helps it set up shop in the protective gelatin-like mucus that coats the stomach. Such bacterial colonization — present in up to half of the world’s population — causes chronic inflammation that is linked to a variety of stomach disorders, from chronic gastritis and duodenitis to ulcers and cancer.