(RxWiki News) Scientists have discovered that a genetically altered version of a probiotic found in yogurt and cheese can be used to treat inflammatory bowel diseases (IBS) such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Researchers at Northwestern University removed a gene from the probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus and fed the altered form to mice with two different forms of colitis, a disease characterized by the inflammation of the colon. Nearly two weeks after administering the treatment, researchers found that the new probiotic had virtually eliminated colon inflammation. Furthermore, the new probiotic treatment stopped the progression of the disease by 95 percent.
According to lead investigator Mansour Mohamadzadeh, associate professor of medicine at Northwester University Feinberg School of Medicine, this genetically altered probiotic provides new ways to treat gastrointestinal diseases - such as inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer - that are caused by imbalanced inflammatory immune responses.
Inflammatory diseases of the gut occur when immune cells attack the intestines. The genetically modified probiotic worked by stimulating messenger immune cells that increased production of regulatory T-cells, which then restored balance to intestinal and systemic inflammation.
In other words, says Mohamadzadeh, the altered probiotic calmed down the immune response and restored it to normal.
With this exciting new finding about the curative powers of genetically modified Lactobacillus acidophilus, the next step will be to perform clinical trials with the new probiotic.
Crohn's disease affects an estimated 359,000 people in the United States. In 2004, 622 people died as a result of the disease.
Ulcerative colitis, which affects approximately 619,000 Americans, killed 311 people in 2004.
The results of this study are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.