As scientists continue their exploration of the thousands of organisms that live inside our body, a new study is showing just how much one “good” bacteria can be exploited to its host’s advantage. Scientists were able to engineer this bacteria to find and attack a harmful pathogen in mice and worms, preventing and halting infections in the process.
The thousands of bacteria and fungi that live inside us are called the microbiome, and the “good” bacteria and yeast are often referred to as a probiotic. Because mice and worms are different from people — and their microbiomes are accordingly different — it’s too early to know if this lab-made bacteria will work in humans. But the study, published today in the journal Nature Communications, is a good example of how we might be able to reprogram the body’s microorganisms to precisely attack pathogens. The hope is that these genetically engineered probiotics could one day help us prevent infections, or even provide an alternative to antibiotics, which can lead to resistance in bacteria.
“From the animal studies it appears viable,” study co-author John March, a professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University, writes in an email to The Verge. But “since we can’t test this in people yet, it’s tough to know how it will perform.”
Read more at: The Verge