The sugars, or oligosaccharides, are called galacto-oligosaccharides and are already known to improve the health of breast-fed infants. They may also reduce the chances of Salmonella bacteria damaging the gut during a food poisoning episode, reducing the overall damage and severity of the infection.
“Salmonella Typhimurium is a disease-causing bacterium capable of infecting a wide range of animals including humans. It is responsible for outbreaks of serious illness every year,” says Laura Searle of the Department of Food and Environmental Safety at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency in Weybridge, Surrey, UK. “We are particularly concerned about it as we can trace people being infected through direct contact with animals or through the food chain.”
Symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning in people include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, fever and headaches and in rare cases the disease can attack the whole system and can be fatal.
"Antibiotics are used to treat particularly severe Salmonella infections,” says Laura Searle. “But their effectiveness has been undermined by their systematic use both as growth promoters in animals and as therapeutic agents, which has been implicated in widespread antibiotic resistance. In an attempt to overcome this problem the European Union banned the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in 2006, so now alternatives are urgently being investigated.”
One possibility is to use prebiotics made from natural complex sugars that are already known to improve gastrointestinal health. There have been many theories put forward about the way they actually work, including the suggestion that they may stimulate our natural gut bacteria to multiply, allowing them to fight off invading pathogens trying to colonise our guts.
The Veterinary Laboratories Agency has initiated a project to demonstrate the exact mechanism for the apparent success of a novel galacto-oligosaccharide mixture. Their studies have now shown that the specific galacto-oligosaccharide mixture protects animals from infection by reducing the invasion capabilities of Salmonella, and cutting the seriousness of the disease symptoms. After treatment with this mixture, fewer Salmonella bacteria were found in systemic and intestinal tissues.
“The next step will be to see if the novel galacto-oligosaccharide mixture can be used in farm livestock successfully, and whether it is still as effective when given before a Salmonella infection, protecting the animals in advance. We also need to see if it can protect against other pathogens,” says Laura Searle.
The novel galacto-oligosaccharide prebiotic mixture used in the tests is already available for people as a commercial preparation. It is claimed to aid healthy people who eat it as part of their daily diet, and also to help people suffering from irritable bowel disease, stomach upsets and diarrhoea.
The veterinary scientists hope that their tests will prove whether it is actually successful in farm animals, reducing gastrointestinal infections, improving animal health and cutting economic losses. The scientists need to now discover the exact mechanisms by which the sugars work.
Lucy Goodchild | EurekAlert!
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22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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