February 1/Evanston, Ill./Indo-Asian News Service -- Probiotics -- bugs thought to be healthy for the host organism -- found in yogurt have shown promise in combating bowel disorders, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, scientists say.
A genetically tweaked version of a probiotic in yogurt and cheese seems to act effectively against the diseases, which can cause weight loss, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, cramping and gastro-intestinal bleeding.
Current treatment is not completely effective and patients can relapse, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.
Northwestern University researchers in the U.S. deleted a gene in the probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus and fed the new form to mice with two different models of the disease.
After 13 days of treatment, the modified probiotic strain nearly eliminated colon inflammation in the mice and halted progression of their disease by 95%, according to a Northwestern statement.
"This opens brand new avenues to treat various autoimmune diseases of the gut, including inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer," said Mansour Mohamadzadeh, associate professor of medicine at the Northwestern University.
While the origin of these bowel diseases is not known, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are two chronically relapsing diseases in which sufferers have an ongoing tissue inflammation that alters the functioning of the intestine.
"Such gene targeting in a probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus offers the possibility of a safe, drug-free treatment in the near future," Mohamadzadeh said.
From the February 7, 2011, Prepared Foods E-dition