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Researchers at the University of Louisville have identified the process by which Legionella bacteria obtain nutrients in order to flourish and multiply once they have occupied a host.

According to, Yousef Abu Kwaik, Ph.D. and his team found that when Legionella bacteria occupy amoebae in nature, they manipulate the amoebae’s cellular processes in order to force proteins to break down into amino acids, which the bacteria then use for food.  When Legionella invade a person’s lungs, they use a similar trick, forcing the person’s body to break down proteins to provide nourishment.

In the article, Dr. Kwaik points out that his team’s research is the first to shed light on how disease-causing bacteria are able to subsist and multiply once they have infected a person, and he hypothesizes that the discovery might lead to the development of vaccines and treatments that inhibit the bacteria’s ability to coerce their host’s cells into feeding them.

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