State University of New York Institute of Technology
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President's Lecture Series

Please join us October 7, 2013 from noon-2p in the Student Center Theatre to hear Dr. Terri A. Camesano present her lecture in the President’s Lecture Series entitled “ Exploring the Health Benefits of Cranberries:  Understanding How Cranberries Prevent Bacterial Adhesion ” . (Light refreshments will be served.)

 ABSTRACT – Dr. Camesano writes that:  The American red cranberry has long been recognized for benefits to maintenance of a healthy urinary tract.  This is especially a concern for women, 1/3 of whom will have at least one urinary tract infection (UTI) in their lifetime, leading to the infection of 11.3 million women per year in the U.S. alone.  Compounds in cranberry juice do not kill bacteria that cause infections, but they show promise as a therapy for infection prevention, because they make the bacteria unable to attach to either urinary tract cells or urinary catheters. As there is a lot of interest in using cranberry juice as a prophylactic treatment to prevent UTIs in vulnerable populations, our work seeks to uncover the molecular mechanism to explain how cranberry compounds can impart these benefits.

We use atomic force microscopy (AFM) to measure how cranberry changes the nano-scale adhesion forces of Escherichia coli ( E. coli ), the most common urinary pathogen. Bacterial cultures were grown in media supplemented with light cranberry juice cocktail or in one of the compounds believed to have anti-adhesive activity (proanthocyanidins). At the macroscale, bacteria were incubated with uroepithelial cells and the number of bacteria attached per uroepithelial cell was determined. Bacterial attachment decreased with increasing growth or exposure to cranberry products. In nanoscale experiments, significant decreases in adhesion forces for E. coli were observed for bacteria exposed to or grown in cranberry juice.

In an extension of these lab results, we conducted a pilot clinical study to examine whether the urine of volunteers who had consumed cranberry contained detectable anti-adhesive compounds. The adhesion forces for E. coli were significantly lower in the urine of volunteers who had consumed cranberry juice, compared to the urine when the volunteer had consumed water or a placebo beverage.

Questions remain as to the specific chemical nature of the beneficial compounds in cranberries, as well as to the optimal dosing protocol. However, these results are encouraging since they help support the molecular mechanisms for the role of cranberry in preventing the adhesion of E. coli , thus helping to scientifically validate the use of cranberry juice as a prophylactic treatment for the prevention of UTIs.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER  – Dr. Camesano received her education from the University of Rochester, University of Arizona, and Pennsylvania State University, where she received her Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering .  Currently, she is a Professor of Chemical, Civil and Environmental Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), MA. In addition to her role as Principal Investigator for IGERT: Training Innovative Leaders in Biofabrication. NSF. 5/1/2012-4/30/2017 , she has earned substantial NSF grants for a number of current research projects in nanotechnology, bioengineering, chemical and biological defense research projects.  Dr. Camesano is credited with over 50 scientific publications in such journals as Journal of Molecular Recognition; Research in Microbiology; Journal of Bacteriology; and many others. She is also the recipient of numerous honors, awards and recognition, including: ELATE Fellow (Executive Leadership in Academic Technology and Engineering ); Coleman Foundation Faculty Fellow; and  HERS Faculty Fellow (HERS Wellesley Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration).

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