The microbes that cause diarrhea, fevers, pneumonia and more have been found to be effective in killing or killing off many other types of bacteria and viruses, according to new research.
The study was published in the journal Nature Microbiology.
“These are not bacteria that we’ve found in the wild, but these microorganisms that can be cultured and put into a lab, and they can be tested against many different pathogens,” said lead author Jennifer G. Brim, a microbiologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“What this study has shown is that these microbials are not the bad guys, but they can have a role in preventing and treating disease.”
In the study, researchers examined the properties of a microbium-containing bacterium, called C. elegans, to see how it kills and destroys viruses.
They found that the bacterium has two distinct properties that have helped it survive in the lab: It can destroy viruses that it is not native to, and it can kill viruses that are native to it.
Researchers found that this bacterium can kill most types of viruses that infect bacteria.
For example, it can cause the most serious infections, including pneumonia, in humans, but not other bacteria that are not native.
This means that it can help to eliminate viruses that people may not be able to kill.
“I think this is a great example of how bacteria can be useful in preventing or treating disease,” said G. Christina St. Pierre, an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Arizona, Tucson, who was not involved in the study.
“I think there is a lot more we can learn about the mechanisms that they use to kill these viruses.
We need to understand how these microbes use these mechanisms.”
The bacteria that cause the bacterial diarrhea, and the microbes that produce the diarrhea, are both symbiotic with one another.
In other words, the bacteria that produce diarrhea are the ones that live in the intestines of the animals that produce it, and those bacteria then produce the viruses that cause these symptoms.
“The symbiotic nature of these bacteria is an important piece of this puzzle, because they do have this kind of symbiotic relationship,” said Brim.
“We want to know how they interact with these viruses and how they can help protect the microbes from viruses that might otherwise cause disease.”
The team was able to find a number of microbes that can help kill viruses.
Among them were strains of Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis that are used in traditional medicine.
They also found a strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa that is used in making antibacterial soaps and detergents, and a strain that causes respiratory illnesses.
“We have a number strains of bacteria that can do both the things that we want them to do,” said St. Peter’s University microbiologist and study coauthor Rana K. Khan, a researcher at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“One of the most exciting things about these bacteria was that they can kill many types of bacterial viruses, including viruses that were not native.”
Khan and her colleagues believe that these beneficial bacteria are able to survive and thrive in a lab environment because the microbes are so close to each other.
In addition, the microbes have a symbiotic relationships with the bacteria, which means they share all of the basic genetic information needed for survival.
“One of these is that we’re able to get the symbiotic properties of these bacterial species, and we’re not only getting a benefit from it, but we’re also getting a huge benefit from having these organisms in our environment,” said Khan.
“It’s a very efficient way to kill viruses and bacteria that might be invading our environment.”
The next step in developing new antibiotics is to figure out how to use these bacteria to treat specific conditions, such as infections caused by resistant strains of the bacteria.
“If we can understand the way that the bacteria kill viruses, how the bacteria can kill bacteria, and what they’re doing to the viruses and their host, we can develop better treatments that can protect our gut from the viruses,” said coauthor Peter D. Osterholm, professor of biochemistry and microbiology at the New York University School and the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology at the Karolinska Institutet.
“That’s really the next frontier in treating infections.”
More information:Bacteria and viruses can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal infections, Nature Microbiol.
Published online April 23, 2017.