A novel antibacterial protein targeted against E. coli O157:H7 may offer a way to prevent or treat serious food-borne bacterial infections, as demonstrated in a study published in the December issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. Results in an animal model of E. coli infection showed that the orally administered protein, developed by AvidBiotics, Inc., could prevent or treat E. coli O157:H7-induced diarrhea and intestinal inflammation when administered either on a preventative basis or after the onset of diarrhea. Moreover, animals treated with the protein also carried and shed fewer of the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in their feces.
"E. coli O157:H7 contamination of foods like ground meats or produce is a well-publicized public health problem, with life-threatening infection outbreaks reported around the world in recent years," said Dean Scholl, Ph.D., lead author of the publication. "Antibiotics are contraindicated for patients infected with enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) strains like O157:H7, because many of those drugs induce the bacteria to produce and release harmful toxins. Anti-diarrheal medications also do not benefit infected patients, as they cause the bacteria to be retained in the intestines, leading to greater toxin exposure. Thus the successful development of treatments that can prevent infection or limit symptoms and disease duration and the possible further spread of harmful bacteria without increasing toxin release could benefit both individual patients and affected communities."
The study published by Dr. Scholl and his collaborators at AvidBiotics and Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School assessed AvidBiotics' anti-E. coli O157 protein, termed an Avidocin- protein, in a rabbit model of infection and reported that: