A group of biochemists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a coating for intestinal bacteria. As shown by the results of experiments, it protects microorganisms from the effects of oxygen during storage and transportation. According to scientists, the new development will be used in the treatment of infections and cancer of the digestive system. The press service of the institute told about it.
Since gut bacteria live in an anaerobic environment, they are very sensitive to oxygen. Because of this, problems arise in the treatment of diseases of the digestive tract. Storing and transporting microorganisms is also more difficult.
To protect bacteria from exposure to oxygen, scientists have created a coating consisting of metal ions and organic substances – polyphenols. They include gallic and tannic acids. They are found in plant foods and are harmless to humans.
Combining with bacteria, the composition forms a protective film. But, as studies have shown, the growth of microorganisms covered with a membrane slows down. Despite this, they remain healthy and continue their vital activity. When in contact with stomach acid, the membrane dissolves, and the bacteria is free again.
Scientists are confident that, in addition to treating gastrointestinal diseases, the protective coating can also be used in vaccines. For example, a difficult-to-manufacture TB vaccine will become easier to store and transport. The coated bacteria will not need to be dry frozen, making transporting drugs easier and cheaper.