Scientists design bacteria against intestinal inflammation

London: Scientists have designed a new "beneficial bacteria" that produces a human protein known for its anti-inflammatory proprieties.

Using non-pathogenic bacteria found naturally in the intestine and dairy food, researchers from Inserm and Inra, France have designed modified bacteria to produce Elafin, a human protein which is known to fight intestinal inflammation.

This discovery could be useful for individuals suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases such as Crohn`s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Scientists believe that administering this protein directly into the intestine could protect against inflammatory attacks and restore intestinal equilibrium and its functions.

Although Elafin is found naturally in the intestine to protect it against attacks, it disappears in patients suffering from IBDs.

To design the modified bacteria, the human Elafin gene, was introduced in Lactococcus lactis and Lactobacillus casei, two food-grade bacteria found in dairy products.

When administered orally to mice, the human Elafin-producing bacteria are found a few hours later on the surface of the intestine where they deliver the anti-inflammatory protein.

In different mice models of chronic or acute intestinal inflammation, oral treatment using these Elafin-producing bacteria provided significant protection of the intestine and decreased inflammatory symptoms.

Elafin expressed by these bacteria also protects cultured human intestinal cell lines from inflammatory outbreaks similar to those observed in chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. Elafin produced in this way restores the equilibrium of intestinal mucus by reducing inflammation and accelerating cell-healing processes.

"This kind of secure treatment could even be used over the long-term, to treat inflammatory diseases," researchers said.