Modified bacteria help to reduce inflammation, UF finds

Mansour Mohamadzadeh, an EPI faculty member and professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, worked alongside a team of researchers to create a mutant bacteria to fend off inflammation that could lead to other ailments. The article below written by Cindy Swirko and posted on The Gainesville Sun website describes UF’s research and what comes next.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Biotic bugs genetically modified to fend off inflammation could lead to a breakthrough in the treatment of colon cancer, diabetes and other ailments, according to researchers at the University of Florida.

Mansour Mohamadzadeh, a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the principal investigator, said the mutant bacteria created at UF help regulate the immune system and thus reduce inflammation, which is a major factor in many diseases.

“This is a revolution in the medical field,” Mohamadzadeh said. “We want to further characterize these genetically modified bacterium in order to bring it to a phase 1 clinical trial in which individuals will be invited and recruited to receive that bacterium.”

Research so far has been done only on mice. The modified bacteria, which took researchers about five years to develop, work by attaching to immune cells in the gut to dampen inflammation.

Mohamadzadeh’s description of the problem sounds something like war being waged in the large intestine.

That war begins when inflammation, which is part of the immune system, gets out of control because of unbalanced microbes in the gut. Immune cells migrate to the spot where that is happening. That’s when trouble begins.

“It becomes a very, very chaotic situation whereupon good and bad cells will be killed or kill each other,” he said. “If you can rebalance intestinal immune responses by some agents, including very beneficial genetically modified bacterium, the body will prevail over many, many diseases including colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune diseases such as diabetes.”

For the research, scientists introduced pre-cancer in mice, which then developed polyps. The mice were treated with either genetically modified bacteria or non-modified bacteria. The special bugs were shown to significantly reduce the number of polyps.

Researchers used common beneficial bacteria found in yogurt and cheese for the genetic modification. The new bacteria restores balance and regulation to control inflammation that can lead to polyps, cancer and other illnesses.

Colon cancer kills more than 50,000 Americans every year and is one of the nation’s leading causes of cancer deaths, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Eventually people could be given the modified bacteria in the form of a pill.

“This is a major discovery that defines how ‘healthy’ microbes function in the gut,” Eugene B. Chang, M.D., the Martin Boyer professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery, said in a UF press release.

“This has far-reaching implications for the development of therapies derived from microbes that can treat many types of complex immune and digestive disorders,” Chang said.

Chang was not involved in the UF study.

Mohamadzadeh is a member of the UF Shands Cancer Center and the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute.

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Credits

Writer Cindy Swirko , swirkoc@gvillesun.com,352-374-5024