Friday, 1 July 2011

Bacterial Friend?

Bdellovibrio bacteria act as 'living antibiotic' against important human pathogen

Scientists have found that a predatory bacterium significantly reduces the number of salmonella bacteria in the guts of live chickens, suggesting that the bacterium has potential to be used as a "living antibiotic."

Researchers at the University of Nottingham found that Bdellovibrio reduced the numbers of Salmonella by 90 percent and the birds remained healthy, grew well, and were generally in good condition.

Salmonella likes to grow in the guts of poultry and other animals and can cause food poisoning in humans.

Dr Laura Hobley said "Bdellovibrio has the potential to be used as a living antibiotic against some major human and animal pathogens, such as E. coli and other so-called Gram-negative bacteria."

She continued "We think that Bdellovibrio could be particularly useful as a topical treatment for wounds or foot rots but we wanted to know what might happen if it is ingested - either deliberately as a treatment, or by accident."

Previous studies have shown that Bdellovibrio is very effective at invading and killing other bacterial cells in a test tube.

And now it looks likely to provide an alternative to antibiotic medicines at a time when bacterial resistance is a significant problem to human and animal health.

Reference:R. J. Atterbury, L. Hobley, R. Till, C. Lambert, M. J. Capeness, T. R. Lerner, A. K. Fenton, P. Barrow, R. E. Sockett. Studying the effects of orally administered Bdellovibrio on the wellbeing and Salmonella colonization of young chicks.. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2011; DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00426-11

Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive, BBSRC said "Once we have understood the fundamental nature of an extraordinary organism such as Bdellovibrio, it makes sense that we should look at potential uses for it. The impact of bacterial infections on human and animal health is significant and since antibiotic resistance is a major issue, alternatives from nature may become increasingly important."