The substance that will keep the beneficial bacteria

The substance that will keep the beneficial bacteria

2023-05-31 07:00:00

Researchers have isolated a readily available and inexpensive polymer that protects bacteria from contamination, and may help the food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries. The new polymeric material prevents viruses from infecting the bacteria in infections, and its use may reduce the amount of infections in the industry.

Usually we tend to think of bacteria in negative contexts, as disease-causing or unwanted factors that are better to get rid of. But in fact, most strains of bacteria do not cause disease; A significant part of them are even beneficial to humans and their health. we users In bacteria as “factories” for the production of new substances, starting from traditional processes such as the preparation of food and beverages, and ending with more modern processes, including the production of chemical substances and substances used by the pharmaceutical industry and food additives such as vitamins, hormones and vaccines.

Bacteria are threatened by viruses called bacteriophages. A phage inserts its DNA into the bacterial cell Image: Kateryna Kon, Shutterstock

Who threatens the bacteria?

But like us, bacteria are also at risk of contracting viral infections, which can cause their death. The enemy that threatens the bacteria is viruses called bacteriophages, or phages for short. The phages are among the most common organisms on Earth, and they are present Everywhere where bacteria are found. Therefore they can easily contaminate bacterial cultures in research laboratories and industrial plants.

The phages stick to the membrane of the bacterial cell from the outside and insert their DNA into it. They then take it over and make it turn into a phage production factory. Up to a hundred new phages are created in each bacterium, until the bacterium explodes and releases the phages into the environment, which in turn attack new bacteria. Since the phages multiply faster than the bacteria they can kill the entire bacterial population in a short time, or at least infect it and stay are asleep inside her

Such an infectious event has dramatic consequences that also lead to a significant financial loss, such as shutting down factories or delaying research for a long period of time, until all areas are thoroughly disinfected. in the food industry, for example, phages are sometimes mixed in the raw materials, and all ingredients and tools must be sterilized at very high temperatures. Strict adherence to special cleaning conditions is also required to protect against the spread of infections. The methods of prevention and disinfection Not always effective, since in many cases the phages manage to survive them. currently trying to create Bacterial strains that will be resistant to phages with the help of genetic editing, but this is a complex process, which cannot be applied to all types of bacteria.

Prevented the phages from infecting the bacteria. Polymer of acrylic acid through the microscope | Source: Eye Of Science, Science Photo Library

Protection against infection

A new study, by researchers from the Department of Chemistry at the School of Medicine and Life Sciences of the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom in collaboration with Cytiva, offers a solution to the problem. in the study, published In the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the researchers isolated a substance that, when added to the growth culture of the bacteria, prevents infection and removes the threat from the bacteria.

The researchers prepared a series of several synthetic polymers – huge molecules, built from a long chain of repeating units – and added each of them individually to the bacteriophage viruses. They then added the viruses to the bacterial cultures grown in laboratory plates, and followed the bacterial culture in the culture over time.

Most of the polymers did not affect the infection: after the phages infected the bacteria, they caused their death within four hours. But one polymer, which is made of repeating units of Acrylic acid (acrylic acid), was particularly active and prevented the phages from infecting the bacteria. The phages added to it did not multiply, but the bacteria multiplied without interruption.

Despite the encouraging effect, the polymer had some limitations. The researchers found that the inhibition is reversible, that is, the polymer does not destroy the phage and does not permanently neutralize it. When the polymer is washed from the culture, the inhibition is removed and the phages return to attacking the bacteria. In addition, they found that the polymer had to be added to the phages before they even encountered the bacteria: when they added it to bacteria that were already infected with the phages, the polymer did not save them and the bacteria died. Despite these limitations, the advantages of using polymer outweigh the weaknesses. This is a well-known and well-known polymer, which is produced on an industrial scale and can be used right now – you just have to add it to the culture liquids used to grow bacteria.

If so, the researchers offer a cheap and simple solution to the infection problem that food plants, industrial plants and research laboratories suffer from. Using a polymer as a food additive for the growth culture of the bacteria, without further changes in the accepted work practices, will reduce the need for disinfectants and processes that take up valuable time. This approach opens up new research directions for the treatment of infections, and after receiving the appropriate approvals, it may reduce the damage caused by infections in research laboratories and food and drug factories.

#substance #beneficial #bacteria


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent News

Editor's Pick