Scientists developed ‘virus cocktail’ loaded with bacteriophages to destroy the invading E. coli without damaging useful gut microbes
Food poisoning is the most common type of disorder caused due to consumption of food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites or toxin. It is characterized by symptoms such as stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the pharmaceutical company Intralytix developed a precise targeted approach using bacteriophages, which can inhibit specific species of bacteria such as E. coli – like a sniper shot, instead of a scattergun blast. The study was published in the journal Gut Microbes in May 2018.
Combination of three species of lytic phages were found to efficiently inactivate hundreds of several from of E. coli species. These phages were identified through rigorous tests in a model of the small intestine, which the team calls the TSI. A graph, generated through Intralytix’s PhageSelector program, shows which phages are effective against which species of E. coli “The research shows that we have an opportunity to kill specific bacteria without collateral damage to the other, and otherwise healthy, intestinal flora,” said Dennis Sandris Nielsen, an author of the study.
The model contained all the fluids and enzymes that would normally be present in the human gut, as well as a batch of intestinal flora matching that of a healthy person and E. coli was added before sending examining the virus cocktail to inhibit the pathogenic bacteria. The results showed that the three lytic phage species were the most effective at killing the bad bugs while leaving the good ones alone. Furthermore, researchers are working on examining the cocktail on mice and eventually humans.