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August 12, 2012

Our bacteria lab graduate Dan Riggins ’12 works at FDA starting this summer. He posts this about his work on Lactobacillus as a probiotic for MRSA (drug-resistant Staph aureus):

“Probiotics are kind of a hot topic in biomedical research right now.  If you’ve eaten a cup of Activia yogurt or drunk a bottle-conditioned beer (Short’s Brewing Company for example), you’ve encountered probiotics in their most basic form.  You can think of probiotics as microorganisms whose presence will positively contribute to your health.  At this moment, your body plays host to literally trillions of bacterial cells, which are especially concentrated in the gut.  The vast majority are benign or beneficial to your well-being.  They perform a variety of functions including stimulation of wound healing, digestion of nutrients for absorption, and protective immunity.  In the past, methods for using probiotics have been pretty crude, but today researchers and companies are developing increasingly refined “drugs” that use specific species of bacteria to treat specific conditions.  The FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (aka where I work) is responsible for approving and regulating these products.

“In the past couple weeks, our lab has started working with an interesting probiotic called Lactobacillus salivarius.  It’s natural habitats include the human mouth, intestines, and the vagina.  L. sal. is closely related to L. acidophilus which is probably the most common active culture found in yogurts.  What makes L. sal. cool is that it produces a compound called a bacteriocin that is lethal to Staph bacteria…”  Continues here.

  1. SFreader permalink
    August 14, 2012 11:40 am

    I’ve been wondering whether some of the increase in gut, allergy and immune problems might be traced back to patients being made to get rid of all their gut bacteria before gastric surgery or a colonoscopy. Considering that colonoscopies are intended to screen for and therefore avoid more serious GI problems down the road, the very nature of current ‘screening’ protocols actually puts them at much greater risk.


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