Cholera still infects over four million people and kills up to 143,000 people every year, according to the World Health Organization. This is unfortunate because while some countries can afford to fund commercial space flights, other countries continue to lack access to clean, uncontaminated drinking water. A new study from Germany takes a closer look at how some bacterial species that can resist the attacks of Vibrio cholerae, manage to do so. Insights from this study may help design probiotic strains that can successfully combat the pathogen’s cunning killing strategies.
Researchers at North Carolina State University have genetically engineered a probiotic yeast, Saccharomyces boulardii, to produce nutrients such as beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A, and natural drugs, such as the anti-bacterial violacein, in the guts of laboratory mice. The study, a step forward for synthetic biology, if replicated in humans could be the end of vitamin A deficiency, a major public health problem in many parts of the world.