Home pagePress monitoringHow a virus cocktail can help wash away food poisoning

How a virus cocktail can help wash away food poisoning

Date: 7.5.2018 

Food poisoning is far from a fun experience, and usually all you can do is just ride out the storm. But soon you might be able to chase a bad burger with a "virus cocktail" loaded with bacteria-hunting viruses (bacteriophages) that will kill off the invading E. coli without harming the helpful bugs that call your gut home. 
Kredit: Graham Beards.

Of course, not everybody wants to weather the violent evacuations, and in the event of downing some suspect sushi, doctors can prescribe antibiotics to clear out the bad bugs.

Unfortunately, the drugs don't discriminate and will go off like a nuke in your gut, which results in a lot of innocent casualties in your gut microbiome – the complex ecosystem of bacteria that plays a surprisingly large role in your overall health. There's also the growing concern of antibiotic resistance to contend with.

So, researchers at the University of Copenhagen and the pharmaceutical company Intralytix set out to design a more targeted approach. The idea was to use bacteriophages that would hunt down and kill specific species of bacteria – in this case, E. coli – like a sniper shot, instead of a scattergun blast. The team settled on three species of lytic phages that, together, were able to wipe out hundreds of different E. coli species.

"The research shows that we have an opportunity to kill specific bacteria without collateral damage to the other, and otherwise healthy, intestinal flora," says Dennis Sandris Nielsen, an author of the study.



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