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Probiotic-derived treatment offers new hope for premature babies
Date:2/13/2013

BETHESDA, Md. (Feb. 13, 2013)"Good" bacteria that live in our intestines have been linked with a variety of health benefits, from fighting disease to preventing obesity. In a new study, Kriston Ganguli of Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and Harvard Medical School and her colleagues have discovered another advantage to these friendly microscopic tenants: Chemicals secreted by good bacteria that typically live in the intestines of babies could reduce the frequency and severity of a common and often-lethal disease of premature infants.

This disease, known as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), affects between 8 and 13 percent of very low birthweight infants (those under 3 pounds, 4 ounces), and up to half of the infants with this condition will die. As babies develop the collection of gut bacteria that colonize healthy intestines, those with NEC have an extreme inflammatory reaction that leads to damage and death of these tissues that often requires surgery to correct. Steroids are one of the few currently available ways to prevent NEC, but their use can cause undesirable complications.

Recent clinical trials of probioticslive microbes taken as dietary supplements to promote healthhave shown promise in reducing both the incidence and severity of NEC. However, in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration does not sanction the use of whole bacteria in premature infants. Seeking a different tact that avoids the use of the bacteria themselves, scientists in the new study investigated whether secretions from probiotic bacteria could prevent NEC.

The article is titled "Probiotics prevent necrotizing enterocolitis by modulating enterocyte genes that regulate innate immune-mediated inflammation." It appears in the American Journal of PhysiologyGastrointestinal and Liver Physiology published by the American Physiological Society.

Methodology

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Contact: Donna Krupa
301-634-7209
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert

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