Probiotic bacteria function better to lower gut inflammation when they are equipped with the greatest equipment, similar to expert firefighters travelling into the wilderness to fight an out-of-control fire. The research was published in the journal Science Advances. A recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows how much potential some gut-friendly bacteria have for enhancing therapies for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
The research is led by Quanyin Hu, a biomedical engineer and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy. Previously developed technology encases helpful bacteria in a very thin protective shell, allowing them to survive an onslaught of stomach acids and competing germs long enough to establish and flourish in the stomachs of mice.
While technology makes orally delivered probiotics more effective, IBD is a complicated illness that generally includes more than just out-of-whack gut microbial ecosystems.
“IBD is a difficult condition that requires multiple approaches,” adds Hu. As a result, Hu and his colleagues developed customised nanoparticles to neutralise chemicals linked to IBD. They’ve also discovered out how to connect these nanoparticle “backpacks” to helpful bacteria after they’ve been coated with a protective covering. When combined with probiotics, these nanoparticle backpacks have the potential to greatly enhance – and simplify – IBD therapies.
While the underlying reasons of IBD are complicated and under investigation, one issue is the overproduction of chemicals known as reactive oxygen species. These molecules are necessary for many human bodily processes, but too many of them in the stomach can cause harmful inflammation along the intestinal lining. Here come the nanoparticle backpacks. The small particles are made up of sulphide and hyaluronic acid. The acid has a strong anti-inflammatory effect, while the sulphide directly targets reactive oxygen species.
Hu’s recent study, which was conducted in mice, found that probiotic bacteria Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 wrapped in a protective shell and furnished with nanoparticle backpacks are substantially better at treating IBD symptoms than their counterparts who did not have the extra gear. The researchers measured the impact of the therapies in two ways: by evaluating weight changes and colon length changes in mice with IBD who received and did not receive the therapy.
Weight loss and colon shrinkage are typical in mice with IBD, just as they are in people. Hu and his colleagues discovered that mice that received the entire therapy lost the least amount of weight and had significantly less colon shortening than mice who received partial or no treatment.
Current treatment choices vary depending on the stage and severity of the disease, according to Hu and his colleagues, who are looking for a more comprehensive treatment that might be beneficial at any stage.
“For me, that’s the most intriguing element of this research,” Hu adds. “We didn’t want to focus on a certain stage of IBD. We aimed to pick the most crucial aspects that help cure or treat the disease at any stage.”
Furthermore, the therapy is delivered orally, which may make it a more appealing option to other more invasive kinds of IBD treatment, such as partial or total colon removal.
While the results are promising, the therapies will not be evaluated in people for some time. Hu’s next goal is to see if the nanoparticle backpacks function well with different probiotic bacteria species and if the therapy has any unwanted side effects. Simplifying the procedure of producing and connecting the nano-backpacks will also be critical for clinically viable therapies.