The baceriophage an emerging solution to digestive distress
Posted on 2018-07-04
Two important areas of modern biological interest, antibiotic resistance and gastrointestinal disease, are brought together in the latest clinical research from George Mason University. Presented at Nutrition in June 2018, their study suggests a possible replacement of antibiotic treatment with specifically-targeted bacteriophages for tackling gastro-intestinal disruptions.
Bacteriophages allow researchers to directly target unwelcome micro-organisms within the gut, unlike antibiotics, which function at the expense of the commensal, symbiotic bacterial population with adverse health effects. Using these bacteria-specific viruses also eliminates the risk of developing antibiotic resistance. The Bacteriophage for Gastrointestinal Health Study found a significant decrease in inflammatory marker IL-4, typically associated with allergic reactions, in 31 individuals who reported gastrointestinal issues treated with the bacteriophages. Analysis of the microbial population both pre and post bacteriophage treatment using16S rRNA and qPCR also displayed a distinct shift in the population towards the symbionts. Researchers within the study not only see potential for treatment; the ability of bacteriophages demonstrated here suggest a more widespread use as dietary supplements, initially for sufferers of metabolic conditions and potentially for the wider population.
The future for this study lies in testing within a larger, more clinically relevant population: for now however, the results are promising.
From a wider perspective, studies such as these which aim to find alternative routes to traditional antibiotics are key to the current, strenuous battle against antibiotic resistance. It is exciting to see another possible application for the multi-talented bacteriophage: restoration of the delicate mix of intestinal microbiota, an issue widely experienced all over the world.
Read the Nutrition 2018 summary here
You can find antibodies against IL-4 here
You can find ELISA kits against IL-4 here
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~Roles of the gut in metabolic syndrome
~Antibiotic Resistance: What you need to know from the WHO