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Stressed bacteria response identified

NEWCASTLE, Australia, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- An Australian-led international team of researchers has observed for the first time how bacteria respond to stress.

They said their achievement moves science a step closer to understanding the spread of deadly diseases such as listeriosis. The study identified a huge molecule called a stressosome that protects bacterial cells from external stress and danger.

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Associate Professor Peter Lewis from the University of Newcastle in Australia said until now, scientists hadn't fully understood how bacteria responded to stress and potential danger.

"It is important to understand the changes that occur when bacteria are under stress as this is the point at which they are likely to become most infectious," he said, noting the protein molecules that make up the stressosome are found in a very wide range of bacteria.

"With bacteria becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, understanding how the stress response is controlled could lead to the development of drugs that help prevent bacterial infection from occurring," Lewis, the study's lead author, said.

The research that included scientists from Britain's Newcastle University and Imperial College London appears in the journal Science.

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