Researchers from Singapore have managed to develop a technique that allows them to engineer a bacterium capable of seeking and killing pathogens.

The technique dubbed “Reprogramming microbes to be a pathogen-seeking killer” has been published in ACS Synthetic Biology journal wherein the researchers have mentioned the success they have achieved in mice and the possibilities of developing a similar technique that would enable creation of bacterium to defeat pathogens in humans.

Using the technique, scientists bioengineered and programmed Escherichia coli bacterium to seek and kill Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is known to cause pneumonia and other such ailments. The process starts out by inserting genes into a single E. coli giving it the capability to create microsin S., which is known for its bacteria killing abilities. The researchers also gave the bacterium the capability to seek out the pathogen first and then release the microsin S.

Escherichia coli killing Pseudomonas aeruginosaIn the next phase, using the same gene insertion technique, gave bacterium the capability to generate nuclease, which is capable of cutting its way through the biofilms created by pathogens in a bid to fend off penetration by antibacterial agents. Once the bacterium is released into the body of a mouse, it seeks the pathogen, sticks to it and generates microcin S to kill it.

By analyzing the fecal samples of mouse before and after application, the team found fewer P. aeruginosa pathogens while the numbers of healthy gut bacteria remained unchanged. The team also revealed that there were no side effects or any other symptoms.

According to the researchers the new found technique appears to be safe as well as effective and they are hoping to adapt the process for use in humans. Currently the team is working on enhancing the engineering process to enable the bacterium better cut through the pathogen’s biofilms.