With the emergence of synthetic biology, the researchers are developing novel and effective probiotics supplements to improve overall public health by eradicating cholera disease and riboflavin (vitamin B2) deficiency.
Even though cholera disease is nearly eradicated in the developed world it still claims thousands of lives every year in developing countries. Since the available vaccines against the disease are of low efficacy and the state of the art cholera therapy fights only symptoms of the disease and does not prevent its spreading there is still a need for an effective cholera treatment.
Riboflavin is not stored in the human body in ample amounts; minute reserves are stored in the liver, kidneys, and heart. A constant supply is needed. Deficiency in this vitamin is usually part of a multiple-nutrient deficiency.
This technology offers probiotics Escherichia coli Nissle with potential to eliminate Vibrio cholerae bacterium directly in the intestinal tract of the cholera infected person and produce riboflavin in the gut with nutritional benefits. By this approach cholera can not only be treated but its spread in the environment will be highly limited.
The centrepiece of this technology is the genetically modified probiotic Escherichia coli as the design and subsequent construction of the genetic modification is wholly prepared by the patent filers.
For the cholera work, the sensing capability was introduced into E. coli by transferring the natural signalling pathway from Vibrio cholerae. This pathway is used originally by V. cholerae to sense the density of its own cells in its immediate environment. By specific rewiring of this natural pathway in E. coli, we were able to make E. coli to sense the presence of V. cholerae cells and produce an antimicrobial molecule to kill V. cholerae cells.
For the riboflavin work, the researchers have successfully introduced flavin producing enzymes into probiotic E. coli that can synthesize riboflavin effectively. This genetically modified probiotic could be easily ingested in a similar manner as how existing probiotic bacteria are taken (e.g. yoghurts, drinks, capsules, dried forms, etc), which can be made available in very affordable forms, and can be readily distributed when necessary.
Overall the researchers innovative approach will address the issue of cholera disease and vitamin B2 deficiency in a more natural way with lesser side effects through simple diet containing the probiotic supplement, as compared to current methods.
The two main products from this technology are probiotic bacteria suitable to be used as a treatment for cholera disease and vitamin B2 deficiency.
This will significantly benefit the public, the healthcare and food industries.
Probiotics are live microorganisms which when administered in sufficient amounts brings health benefits to the host. Consequently, probiotics are widely consumed as dietary supplements (e.g. yogurts or other fermented foods). The global market for probiotics is huge. It is expected to reach US$ 52.34 billion by 2020, according to a recent study by Grand View Research, Inc.
This technology offers an effective treatment of the cholera disease with simple way of oral administration. The general population could benefit from the reduced number of Vibrio cholerae cells being released to the environmental waters by infected individuals. Consumers would obviously benefit from vitamin producing probiotics as this could increase their vitamin intakes while consuming them as a part of their normal diet.
The probiotics will be able to stay in the gut long enough (2-3 days) to provide longer term protection/supplement effect. This provides convenience, avoiding the need to take supplement a few times daily. This engineered probiotic could be easily ingested in a similar manner as how existing probiotic bacteria are taken (e.g. yoghurts, drinks, capsules, dried forms, etc), which can be made available in very affordable forms, and can be readily distributed when necessary.