AvidBiotics' protein treatment could fight foodborne bacteria, study shows

E.coli--a nasty bacteria contracted from contaminated foods like ground meat or produce--may have a new foe: A novel antibacterial protein.

The orally administered Avidocin protein, developed by California drug company AvidBiotics, appears to prevent E. coli-related diarrhea and intestinal inflammation in animals. Researchers also determined the protein successfully treated both issues after diarrhea began, according to a new study from AvidBiotics, and Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston. Details are published in the December issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

The company and researchers use its Avodicin protein platform to design proteins that kill bacteria in a more targeted way. They see the proteins as a potentially viable and safer alternative to antibiotics, which often kill healthy intestinal bacteria along with the bad bacteria. Antibiotics can also become ineffective against rare variations of E. coli that resist the treatment.

AvidBiotics welds genetic engineering to make its protein from R-type pyocins, antibacterial proteins found in certain Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains--bacteria found in soil, water and elsewhere that can cause disease in animals. The protein is useful against bacteria because it binds to the bacterial cell and punches its lining open, which depletes its contents and kills the target, the company said.

Scientists found that the protein stayed active in treated animals' intestines at least a full day after being given. The treatment also stopped animals from developing E. coli symptoms once infected.

AvidBiotics said it has tested its proteins successfully against Salmonella, Shigella and other bacterium. The South San Francisco company is developing Avidocin proteins against Acinetobacter, a bacteria that often resists antibiotics and has sickened members of the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

- here's the release
- check out the published study

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