Genetically modified bacteria could be used to treat liver and bowel diseases by mopping up toxins inside the gut.
Researchers tested the groundbreaking technique by creating a common strain of bacteria mop up excess ammonia in the body.
High levels of the chemical can be fatal for people with liver damage and rare genetic disorders.
HOW IT WORKS
The medicine, which is orally administered, uses the ‘tools and principles of synthetic biology to engineer a strain of non-pathogenic bacteria (E. coli Nissle) to perform or deliver specific functions lost or damaged due to disease,’ the firm behind it says.
Humans have taken E coli nissle as a probiotic for more than a century
The bacteria, created by Synlogic, a firm co-founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was able to reduce dangerous levels of ammonia, boosting survival rates in susceptible mice.
‘Mice orally dosed with SYNB1020 demonstrated lower blood ammonia and increased survival,’ the firm said.
A small trial in healthy people found the bacteria worked as expected and were safe to take.