Video: 'Good bacteria' make diseases less deadly

November 16, 2016 by Stuart Gillespie, Oxford Science Blog, University of Oxford
Defensive microbes could be used in the fight against disease. Credit: Dan Guy

In a new paper published in the journal Nature Communications, Oxford DPhil student Suzanne Ford from the Department of Zoology shows how the use of 'good bacteria' – or defensive microbes – could help fight diseases.

Using a infected both with a host-protective microbe and a harmful pathogen, the study demonstrates that the presence of a defensive microbe can force a pathogen to become less virulent.

Defensive microbes can also 'steal' from pathogens to make themselves stronger, causing the pathogens to evolve to produce fewer such proteins. This, in turn, makes the defensive microbes weaker – but enough damage has already been done to the pathogen to stifle its future growth and virulence.

In a video produced by fellow Oxford DPhil student Sally Le Page for her 'Shed Science' YouTube series, Suzanne explains how, in the era of , alternative strategies for disease control are of the utmost importance.

Credit: Oxford Science Blog

Explore further: Study explains how an intestinal microbe protects against other, more dangerous bacteria

More information: Suzanne A. Ford et al. Microbe-mediated host defence drives the evolution of reduced pathogen virulence, Nature Communications (2016). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms13430

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