Patent of the Week: Boosting the Microbiome to Prevent Infection

Patent of the Week

Many antibiotic-resistant infections in humans can be traced to food and animals due to the widespread use of antibiotics on farms. Because of this, there is an urgent need to develop alternative methods of preventing bacterial infection in livestock.

In this patent, researchers, including Cathryn R. Nagler, PhD, UChicago Bunning Food Allergy Professor, describe an alternative method to inhibit infections by administering bacteria to supplement the microbiome – the genetic material of all the microbes (bacteria, viruses, etc.) living on and in humans and animals.

According to the researchers, the method does not disrupt existing gut bacteria and can be used both preventatively and therapeutically. Importantly, it does not contribute to antibiotic resistance, which is a growing problem, globally.

Researchers have completed proof-of-concept studies using a common model for immature immune systems and microbiota. These studies showed that the administration of bacterium – specifically, Clostridiales – provided protection against salmonella and E. coli infections.

As the paper explains, the inability to provide protection from external bacteria occurred when Clostridiales were absent in the gut. However, the administration of Clostridiales protected neonatal mice from pathogen infection and “abrogated intestinal pathology upon pathogen challenge,” said the researchers. “Depletion of Clostridiales also abolished colonization resistance in adult mice. The neonatal bacteria enhanced the ability of protective Clostridiales to colonize the gut,” they explained.

To further develop research in this space, Nagler also in 2016 co-founded ClostraBio, which is developing microbiome-modulating therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of food allergy.

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// Patent of the Week is a weekly column highlighting research and inventions from University of Chicago faculty.

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