A microbe that can lead to the formation of stomach ulcers and cancer quickly finds its way to tiny injuries in the stomach lining and colonizes them, slowing healing.
Marshall Montrose at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio and his colleagues exposed mice with stomach injuries to Helicobacter pylori and found that the damaged sites had larger colonies of the microbe than healthy areas.
Bacterial strains that had been engineered to be immobile or to be insensitive to their environment were less able to infect wounds than were normal strains. Moreover, the authors found that the bacterium takes only a few minutes to navigate from elsewhere in the stomach to damaged areas to slow repair.
They suggest that even microscopic injuries in the stomach that occur through eating and other normal activities are vulnerable to infection.