Celebrating Urinary Health Milestones from the Last Decade

Celebrating Urinary Health Milestones from the Last Decade

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Written by: Kate Labat

The last decade has brought many milestones in the world of UTI research. Here, we review significant research milestones completed over the last 10 years.

While it's safe to say there is still much progress to be made with UTI research and urinary health, we do think it's important to reflect on the innovation that has happened, and what else is in the pipeline for the future.

We’ve faced some crazy stuff in this last decade, like the sharp rise of antibiotic-resistant infections, but we’ve also made some major progress in the field of urology. And as more and more media attention is paid to antibiotic-resistant UTIs, we are spreading awareness that may change the game for UTI sufferers forever.

So let’s take some time to appreciate some milestones, shall we?


  • A study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggested that the body’s inflammatory response to an initial UTI could pave the way for more aggressive reactions in the future.
  • Samples taken from poultry at grocery stores in Montreal offered strong evidence that E. coli living in food sources could lead to UTIs.


Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that UTI-causing bacteria in mice can exploit the body’s natural waste disposal system (known as “autophagy”) which usually clears harmful bacteria. E. coli can transform garbage-bin-like containers along the bladder wall (known as “autophagosomes”) into safe havens, where they can hide out and cause repeat infections.


  • The World Health Organization (WHO) released the first-ever global report on antibiotic resistance, revealing just how widespread the epidemic has become in an effort to usher in more worldwide awareness — and inspire countries to act preventatively to stop the spread of disease.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 4 in 10 women who were treated for a UTI during early pregnancy received a prescription for nitrofurantoin or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. They published their findings to alert the medical community of the dangers of prescribing these drugs during early pregnancy.
  • A group of U.S. researchers published a study disproving the myth that urine is sterile.


  • The European Association of Urology further disproved the sterility myth.
  • Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis linked the immune protein siderocalin to the prevention of bacteria growth — and thus of UTIs. They found that when the protein was present in high numbers in urine samples, UTIs were less likely to occur in the subject. They also discovered that presence of aromatics in the diet could influence a person’s likelihood of getting a UTI.


  • A study out of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis connected the dots between sexual activity and UTIs. When the vaginal bacteria Gardnerella vaginalis enter the bladder, they can reactivate dormant E. coli from a previous infection, causing them to multiply and trigger a new infection.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) named specific bacterial strains that were in critical need of treatment options. They shared the information for the first time ever in preparation for the G20 summit in Berlin, where the world’s 20 wealthiest countries convened to discuss how they would fund the development of antibiotics that would otherwise not receive enough backing.
  • A student startup received $25,000 in funding to develop a short-wavelength ultraviolet light device that kills pathogens in catheters, with the hopes of preventing catheter-associated urinary tract infections.


  • Researchers in Australia discovered a bladder microbiome — a collection of bacteria that are always present within the bladder, even without an infection. This discovery could help scientists better understand why some people are more prone to UTIs than others, and pave the way for more effective treatment options, especially for those who suffer from recurrent UTIs.
  • A Stanford University study found that bacteria that cause UTIs need a specific version of the cellulose molecule to successfully adhere to bladder cells. If that cellulose connection can be interrupted, it may be the key to preventing UTIs from occurring, so antibiotic treatment can be avoided.
  • Researchers at the University College London called for the development of alternative diagnostic tools after sharing their findings that standard UTI tests often fail to accurately diagnose UTIs in chronic sufferers.


  • In a pivotal July article, The New York Times called UTIs “the single biggest risk to healthy people from drug-resistant germs,” drawing widespread attention to the health crisis. The article caused such an outpouring of responses from women who suffer from recurrent infections that they published a follow-up.
  • Researchers at the University of Queensland discovered that UTI-causing bacteria can hide in the intestinal tract and contribute to recurrent infections in the bladder, despite treatment with antibiotics. This discovery led to the hypothesis that, in order to beat persistent infections, treatment may need to focus on wiping out the reservoir of bacteria in the gut as well as the bladder.
  • San Francisco startup Vivoo launched an at-home urinalysis product that can tell you, among other things, whether you are at risk for developing a UTI.
  • A UT Southwestern study found that multiple strains of bacteria often penetrate the bladder walls in postmenopausal women, shedding additional light on why the demographic is so prone to recurrent UTIs.
  • Researchers at Newhaven University demonstrated, for the first time ever, how the body’s inflammatory response can pave the way for recurrent urinary tract infections. They found that if the initial infection persists for several weeks, the resulting inflammatory response could alter the bladder and cause the immune system to overreact in the future, leading to more severe and chronic infections.


  • Duke University released findings on their development of a UTI vaccine. According to lead author Jianxuan Wu, Ph.D., “the new vaccine strategy attempts to ‘teach’ the bladder to more effectively fight off the attacking bacteria. By administering the vaccine directly into the bladder where the residual bacteria harbor, the highly effective vaccine antigen, in combination with an adjuvant known to boost the recruitment of bacterial clearing cells, performed better than traditional intramuscular vaccination.” While research is still early, and it's too soon to say whether this approach is viable, it is exciting to see such innovative progress in addressing UTIs.


  • Uqora is conducting biofilm research to better understand biofilm complexities and ingredient function.

We’ve sure come a long way, and we’ll be accomplishing even more in this next decade. As researchers continue to uncover new nuggets and organizations take the initiative to fight back against UTIs, we know we’ll accomplish some amazing things together.

About the author

Kate graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from San Diego State University. She is the Content Manager at Uqora and is responsible for Uqora's social media, newsletters and contributing to the UTI Learning Center.

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