Northwestern Medicine researchers say that a genetically tweaked version of a common probiotic found in yogurt cheese may be an effective therapy for inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. and
It may also prove to be useful in colon cancer, another disease triggered by inflammation.
The researchers deleted a gene in the probiotic Lactobacillus
acidophilus and fed the new form to mice with two different models of
colitis. After 13 days of treatment, the novel probiotic strain nearly
eliminated colon inflammation in the mice and halted progression of
their disease by 95 per cent.
"This opens brand new avenues to
treat various autoimmune diseases of the gut, including inflammatory
bowel disease and colon cancer, all which can be triggered by imbalanced
inflammatory immune responses," said Mansour Mohamadzadeh, associate
professor of medicine at Northwestern University
While the origin of these bowel
diseases is not known, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are two
chronically relapsing diseases in which sufferers have an ongoing tissue
inflammation that alters the functioning of the intestine.
"Such gene targeting in a probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus
acidophilus offers the possibility of a safe, drug-free treatment in the
near future," he said.
In the study, the modified
Lactobacillus acidophilus entered the gut, which is akin to a
battlefield of friendly fire with immune cells attacking the intestine.
The Lactobacillus acidophilus acted as the gut's peacekeeping force,
calming the overstimulated immune cells.
The probiotic restored
intestinal peace by mobilizing messenger immune cells, called dendritic
cells. The dendritic cells, in turn, enhanced the production of other
functional immune cells, regulatory T-cells that rebalanced intestinal
and systemic inflammation.
"They essentially calm everything
down and restore it to normal," Mohamadzadeh explained. The next step
will be a clinical trial with the new form of Lactobacillus acidophilus.
The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Feinberg School of Medicine and lead investigator of the study. He also
is a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of