Microbiome study highlights bacterial strategy for treating severe diarrhea

MSU's Shannon Manning

After sequencing the DNA of patients suffering from severe diarrhea and their healthy relatives, researchers at Michigan State say they have identified a new microbiome strategy for aiding patients by better balancing levels of healthy and sickening gut bacteria.

The key insight from their study focused on the role of increased amounts of the intestinal bacteria Escherichia has in severe diarrhea. 

"Compared to the uninfected patients in the study, the patients who were infected with four different diarrheal pathogens--Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, Campylobacter and Shigella--all had increased levels of Escherichia," said Shannon Manning, MSU Foundation Professor of microbiology and molecular genetics and leader of the study. "In addition, patients had a decrease in the Escherichia population after they recovered." 

The team concluded that new therapies that could contain Escherichia--along with other pathogenic Proteobacteria populations--while adding beneficial microbes could play a key role in treating severe diarrhea.

It's a serious health issue. The team notes that 31 different foodborne pathogens cause more than 9.4 million infections leading to nearly 56,000 hospitalizations and around 1,351 deaths each year.

Their work was published in the journal Microbiome.

- here's the release
- read the research article