EU funded project aims to fight intestinal infections with beneficial bacteria

January 21, 2003

Brussels, 20 Jan 2003

An ongoing EU funded project has identified strains of bacteria that can have a beneficial effect on intestinal inflammations and infections, it has been revealed.

DEPROHEALTH is a collaborative project receiving 1.4 million euro under the quality of life section of the Fifth Framework Programme. Its aim is to develop oral vaccines based on probiotic bacteria to counter the severe effects of conditions such as rotavirus, which causes infant diarrhoea, and Chrohn's disease.

The project forms part of the PROEUHEALTH cluster, a scientific, medical and commercial collaboration between 64 research groups from 16 European countries. The cluster aims to provide a clearer understanding of the relationships between food, intestinal bacteria and human health and disease.

Within the DEPROHEALTH project, in vitro experiments have so far uncovered certain lactobacilli strains which have a positive influence on inflammations of the bowel. The four most promising probiotic strains have been selected for further studies using human volunteers and mice. Those strains that have shown the best results have all produced higher levels of murine, the active compound that prevents the bacterial inflammation.

Initially, the project team, made up of research and educational institutions and companies from France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, the UK and Australia, assessed a number of natural strains of lactobacilli for their suitability. With the goal of creating an oral vaccine in mind, scientists had to identify candidate strains that not only demonstrated effectiveness in preventing inflammation, but which could also survive the acidic conditions found in the human digestive system.

Ultimately, the beneficial bacteria identified by the team may be incorporated into certain everyday foodstuffs in order to provide a widespread and effective defence against intestinal infections. In this way, the researchers hope to relieve the symptoms of millions of sufferers of intestinal conditions in Europe and in doing so significantly improve their quality of life.

For further information on the PROEUHEALTH project cluster, please visit: dex.htm

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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