Swiss scientists find flu treatments can help fight E. coli
Countless bacteria thrive in the gut, which also makes these bacteria more common than the body’s other cells. Gut bacterial populations change according to the diet of the individual. Antibiotic treatments and diseases can change this balance, as these factors can damage the intestinal tissue and result in inflammations.
Even though it remains a question as to how these shifts are triggered, physiologists based at the University of Zurich have discovered why E. coli multiplies more heavily and inflames the colon.
E. coli’s normal state is harmless, as it comprises just 0.1 percent of the body’s intestinal flora. Once this bacteria multiplies, it causes inflammation and diarrhea, largely because of the carbohydrate sialic acid. The bacteria uses sialidase, an enzyme, to use the sialic acid for its spread.
"It's striking that E. coli doesn't produce this kind of enzyme itself," Thierry Hennet, a professor from the Institute of Physiology at the University of Zurich, said.
With this discovery, researchers can use specific flu remedies to help fight E. coli.
"Derivatives of known flu agents such as Tamiflu and Relenza could therefore also be used for inflammatory intestinal diseases, which opens up new therapeutic possibilities," Hennet said.