Beneficial intestinal bacteria can easily turn into harmful

A huge amount of research proves that gut microbes play an important role in human health. For example, they may influence the risk of cancer, diabetes and even depression, so it’s important for people to maintain the balance of intestinal microflora. To do this in yogurt and some other foods is the class of beneficial microorganisms called probiotics, but research at Washington University in St. Louis showed that they can evolve and become harmful.


If you think about it, this assumption seems quite obvious — germs can differently adapt to different habitats and, subsequently, to turn from useful into harmful. According to the head of research Gautam Dantas, if humanity is going to use living organisms as medicine, they should remember that their function can change depending on the environment.

Immune to the evolution of microbes no, but that doesn’t mean people should stop developing therapies based on probiotics.

Gautam Dantas, author of the study

To find out, in some cases, the microorganisms can be dangerous, scientists have introduced the probiotic E. coli Nissle (EcN) in the organisms of mice with different state of the intestinal flora and different diets. After five weeks of the study, the researchers tested the DNA of the introduced microorganisms. It turned out that in healthy mice, they almost did not evolve, but changes were seen in patients individuals. In particular, the scientists noticed that the microorganisms have developed resistance to antibiotics, and some even learned to eat intestinal mucus, turning against the master.

In a healthy microflora, we did not catch a big adaptation, perhaps because these conditions are already familiar with probiotics. But it is important to remember, in most cases, no-one will prescribe probiotics to those who are healthy. Just the opposite — they are awarded to people with disorders of the microflora, and in such conditions, probiotics and evolyutsioniruet.

Aura Ferreira, one of the authors of the study

According to Gautam Dantas, a new discovery complicates the use of probiotics in the treatment and opens up new possibilities. For example, the doctor can appoint treatment depending on the condition of the microflora of the patient.

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