In the past century, the mortality rate from infections by bacteria and viruses has plummeted.
The reduction comes mainly in part to the introduction of antibiotics; however, we’ve noticed that antibiotics are becoming less effective.
Which is why some people fear they may fail to work altogether in the future.
The good news is one of the world’s deadliest infections could be cured by something inside yogurt.
Yogurt may be one of the most beneficial foods in the world.
Yes, even the ones with a little bit too much sugar in them could help to alter health.
All yogurt is made when milk is exposed to select bacteria that ferment naturally occurring sugars and create a wonderful, semi-sour treat.
The fermentation process doesn’t just make food, though, it also creates cultures of billions of bacteria known as probiotics.
And these probiotics may hold the power for incredible health changes.
An accidental discovery in mice revealed that there are specific intestinal microbiota, or microorganisms, that can prevent and cure rotavirus infections.
Rotavirus is responsible for terrible bouts of diarrhea that lead to dehydration.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), rotavirus infections may contribute to the deaths of more than 215,000 people – all the result of dehydration.
A team of researchers was trying to see how they could treat rotavirus.
To accomplish this they made immunodeficient mice to see how they responded to the introduction of rotavirus.
What they didn’t realize is when they made these mice, the mice had a remnant bacterium alive in their gut.
That bacteria species is called Segmented Filamentous Bacteria (SFB).
Without realizing it, the scientists exposed the mice to SFB and yet the mice never became sick.
According to them, the original attempt to find a cure was to help the mice become adaptively immune to rotavirus (the immune system must respond to the virus and become resistant to it to clear the virus).
They reasoned that the best way for the immune system to adapt was by the introduction of particular microbes.
To test the theory, they performed fecal transplants to introduce new microbes into the mice’s intestines.
From there, they came to discover that SFB was responsible for preventing mice from becoming sick.
Andrew Gewirtz, one of the researchers, said this of their discovery:
“This discovery was serendipitous. We were breeding mice and realized that some of them were completely resistant to rotavirus, whereas others were highly susceptible. We investigated why and found that the resistant mice carried distinct microbiota. Fecal microbiota transplant transferred rotavirus resistance to new hosts.”
According to their paper, which was published in the journal Cell, SFB “reduces the damage that the rotavirus causes by initiating both the shedding of infected epithelial cells and their replacement with new, healthy ones.”
“It’s a new basic discovery that should help understand proneness to rotavirus infection,” notes Gewirtz.
Now that they made this discovery in mice, the team is encouraged to test our SBD’s effects against rotavirus in humans.
Gewirtz made it a point to emphasize that their discovery doesn’t necessarily mean SBD will absolutely cure rotavirus in humans, He said their research “does not yield an immediate treatment for humans but provides a potential mechanism to explain the differential susceptibility of different populations and different people to enteric viral infection.”
“Furthermore, it may lead to new strategies to prevent and treat viral infections,” he said in summary.
While SFB doesn’t yet appear in yogurt, there’s a chance researchers could begin including it in fermentation cultures, which could be introduced to yogurt.