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Bacteria are kniving, scheming, smart little devils

Posted Sep 23 2009 3:29pm

Several years ago, when I worked for a human nutraceutical company, I recall one of the senior scientists there talking about skin cells and sunburn. To overly simplify his tutorial, he explained that when your skin turns red after prolonged sun exposure, a lot of that redness is not actual sunburn cells, but rather healthy cells preparing for sun damage by turning red. They had communicated with the damaged cells and were told, “get ready for a big dose of sun radiation.”

A story this past week in the Wall Street Journal goes into detail about how bad bacteria cells in the body communicate with each other when planning for a conquest. They are cunning warriors and all-around bad dudes. In short, when the immune cavalry are on their way to find the enemy bacteria, the bacteria hold back and hide, scouting the immune cell battalion size, all the while dividing and multiplying. When they figure they’ve got enough warriors to overwhelm the immune forces, they come out of their  bunkers and attack. You’d think you were watching a Lord of the Rings episode.

Maybe a balanced immune system would direct those immune cells to send only one or two reconnaissance troops or not show up at all, let the bacteria expose themselves, then quickly rush in with endless brigades of NT (natural killer) cells to wipe out the enemy with shock and awe.

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