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Protecting good bacteria from antibiotics

By Tim Sandle     Jul 3, 2014 in Science
Antibiotics kill pathogenic bacteria. However, they can also kill beneficial bacteria and upset the human body, especially in the gut. Scientists have developed a way to help protect ‘good’ bacteria from antibiotics.
Scientists have discovered that populating the gastrointestinal tracts of mice with a key species of bacteria that produces a specific enzyme, helps protect the good bacteria in the gut from the harmful effects of antibiotics.
The species of bacteria that produces the important enzyme is Bacteroides and the enzyme produced is beta-lactamase.
For the study, the scientists established populations of beta-lactamase producing Bacteroides in some mice, but not in others. They then gave all the mice ceftriaxone, a beta-lactam antibiotic, for three days and then oral doses of pathogenic bacteria.
The results showed that the mice that had been populated with Bacteroides maintained their diverse species of beneficial gut bacteria and remained free of the pathogens. With the control mice, there was a decrease in the beneficial bacteria (due to the antibiotics) and some detection of the pathogens.
The implications of the research are that beta-lactamase enzymes could be given orally as drugs, to protect the gut bacteria from systemic antibiotics.
The research was conducted at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The research has been published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. The paper is titled “Gastrointestinal Colonization With a Cephalosporinase-Producing Bacteroides Species Preserves Colonization Resistance Against Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus and Clostridium difficile in Cephalosporin-Treated Mice”.
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