Engineered Bacteria Could Protect Gut from Antibiotics: Study
Researchers at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a type of bacteria that could potentially protect humans from the harmful side effects of antibiotics, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering. Although antibiotics remain a major tool to fight bacterial infections, they can also wipe out helpful gut bacteria, which can lead to diarrhea, inflammation, or serious infections such as Clostridioides difficile. Widespread antibiotic use has also contributed to the spread of resistant microbes worldwide. Some doctors have prescribed probiotics to help, though antibiotics can also affect probiotics.
@sandesh With a "living biotherapeutic" – or an engineered bacteria strain – Cubillos-Ruiz and colleagues believe they may have another solution. They modified a strain of Lactococcus lactis, which is safe for humans to eat and is often used in cheese production, to deliver an enzyme that can break down beta-lactam antibiotics. Many of the most prescribed antibiotics in the U.S., including penicillin, ampicillin, and amoxicillin, fall under that category. With gene editing, the researchers modified how the strain synthesizes the enzyme to prevent it from transferring that ability to other bacteria. In other words, the treatment reduces the harmful effects of antibiotics but still allows them to work against infections.