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!
Making fuel out of thick air
08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
05.12.2017 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
11.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences