Trust your gut: probiotics could directly block staphylococcus infection

2018

Challenge

There is increasing evidence that the gut is commonly colonized by Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), a widespread and dangerous human pathogen that can cause sepsis and fatal pneumonia. Treatment of S. aureus infections is complicated by antibiotic resistance, such as in methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). Antibiotic-based strategies designed to eradicate colonizing S. aureus have been largely ineffective and may also contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance.

Advance

IRP and international researchers, led by Michael Otto, Ph.D., connected the presence of Bacillus, a probiotic bacteria found in food, with an absence of staph in the colon. The team also established the molecular mechanism by which Bacillus directly interferes with pathogen colonization.

Impact

Probiotic nutrition is frequently claimed to improve human health, but evidence of direct influence is lacking. Dr. Otto’s work suggests that consuming Bacillus-containing probiotics could be a simple and safe method of combating S. aureus infection. The intervention holds immense clinical promise and provides important insights into the influence of the microbiome on human health.

Publications

Piewngam P, Zheng Y, Nguyen H, Dickey W, Joo H, Villaruz E, Glose A, Fisher E, Hunt L, Li B, Chiou J, Pharkjaksu S, Khongthong S, Cheung GYC, Kiratisin P, Otto M. (2018). Pathogen elimination by probiotic Bacillus via signaling interference. Nature. 562(7728):532-537.