Bacteria re-engineered to fight drug-resistant microbe

A research team in Singapore has re-engineered a strain of harmless bacteria to fight against another common, drug-resistant microbe that can be deadly to hospital patients with weak immune systems.
The scientists used a strain of the E. coli bacteria that is typically present in the human gut to fight against the Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterium, Reuters reports. They inserted foreign DNA fragments into the E. coli that empowered it to sense the offending pathogen and speedily produce and release a deadly toxin.
"Once (the re-engineered E.coli) detects the presence of the aeruginosa, it produces a toxin...and the killing molecule will be released to kill the pathogen," Chueh Loo Poh, an assistant professor and a member of the research team at the Nanyang Technological University's School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, said, according to Reuters.
Matthew Wook Chang, an assistant professor and lead author of the paper, said that the team's engineered bacteria inhibited the pathogen's growth by 90 percent. The findings were published in the journal Molecular Systems Biology.
Chang said that the formula they used to re-engineer E. coli can be used to redesign other microbes to fight other infective agents, such as the Vibrio cholerae which causes cholera, according to Reuters. The team said that re-engineered bacteria could be made into probiotics and consumed in food like yogurt.
The team is testing its re-engineered E. coli on animals and hope to later carry out clinical trials in people infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa.