The treatment is for bowel disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, which affects one in 400 people in the UK and for which there is no cure. The bacterium Bacteroides ovatus activates a protein when exposed to a specific type of sugar, xylan. In research to be published in Gut, the therapy has been proven to work in animals with colitis, one of the major forms of inflammatory bowel disease.
The bacterium is able to deliver the protein, a human growth factor called KGF-2, directly to the damaged cells that line the gut, unlike other treatments which can cause unwanted side effects. Also unlike other treatments, it is envisaged that patients will be able to control the medication themselves by ingesting xylan, perhaps in the form of a drink.
"This is the first time that anyone has been able to control a therapeutic protein in a living system using something that can be eaten," said Professor Simon Carding of the Institute of Food Research and the University of East Anglia Medical School, lead author on the research. "The beneficial bugs could be activated when they are needed."
The treatment had a significant therapeutic effect. For example, it reduced rectal bleeding, accelerated the healing of the gut lining, and reduced inflammation. It was also able to prevent the onset of disease.
"The bacterium is being used to produce other protein molecules to treat various bowel disorders and we are now applying for funding to try out the bug in humans," said Dr. Zaed Hamady, an MRC Research Fellow at Leeds University.
Since genetic engineering techniques were developed in the 1970s, scientists have found ways to apply them to medicine. Insulin was the first medicine to be genetically engineered and the first genetically engineered vaccine was for hepatitis B. The technology is now opening up ways to deliver drugs to specific targets, as with this treatment to deliver a protein directly to injured areas of the gut.
"Initially I envisage this being an adjunct therapy to patients' existing medicine, but eventually it could be the sole therapy," said Professor Carding. "Once our bugs are in the colon they could be activated when needed so we aim to use our bugs to prevent disease or relapse in IBD."
The work was funded by a grant from the Medical Research Council and the Royal College of Surgeons, and by Techtran. The Institute of Food Research is an institute of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
Zoe Dunford | EurekAlert!
When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short
23.03.2017 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie
WPI team grows heart tissue on spinach leaves
23.03.2017 | Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
23.03.2017 | Life Sciences
23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences