Virus tricks the immune system into ignoring bacterial infections

The finding could explain why the body tolerates some microbes ― and lead to better treatments for chronic infections.

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A bacterium which is responsible for about 10% of hospital-acquired infections in the US uses a virus to trick a person’s immune system into ignoring it.

The virus, known as a phage, infects the Pseudomonas aeruginosabacterium, which frequently resists antibiotic treatment. The phage prompts the immune system into going after it instead of its microbe host, researchers report1 on 28 March in Science. The bacterium and the phage, called Pf, exist in a symbiotic relationship that scientists suspect is more widespread in the microbial world than previously believed. The finding could help to explain why the immune system tolerates helpful bacteria, such as those in the gut, and could lead to better treatments for infections.

By: Sara Reardon/Nature News

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