London: British scientists have revealed that a gut dwelling bacterium can help treat inflammatory bowel disease called colitis.
The research team from Institute of Food Research in Norwich, UK have genetically engineered the gut bacterium called Bacteroides ovatus to express a protein called keratinocyte growth factor-2 (KGF-2), when exposed to a specific type of sugar, xylan.
This protein is crucial in maintaining and repairing the intestinal lining.
The study showed that the protein-expressing bacteria reduced rectal bleeding, accelerated healing of the gut lining and reduced gut inflammation in the mice.
It could also prevent development of the disease in the first place.
"There were no side effects, none at all. We were amazed how well it worked given the small amount of bacteria administered," Nature magazine quoted Carding as saying.
Unlike conventional treatments, the protein is delivered directly to the damaged cells that line the gut.
"A major goal of drug treatment for any disease is to target it to the site of disease activity and to be able to control its levels in the body," said Carding.
"The system we have developed is a means of delivering proteins to the colon, and it could be used to deliver a variety of proteins for a variety of purposes, including vaccine antigens," he added.