New research from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) indicates a type of bacteria that’s commonly used in many probiotic nutritional supplements helps eliminate Staphylococcus aureus in the gut.
In a study published yesterday in Nature, scientists from NIAID, along with colleagues in Thailand, found that among a group of volunteers from rural Thailand, individuals with Bacillus bacteria in their gut had no S aureus bacteria in their intestines or their nasal passages. Lab experiments conducted on Bacillus revealed that the bacteria prevent S aureus colonization by secreting a substance that interferes with cellular communication and the regulation of gene expression in the pathogen.
The scientists suggest the surprising findings open the door for exploring the potential of using Bacillus as a tool to decolonize patients found to carry S aureus in their nose or their intestines, which can increase the risk for developing dangerous Staph infections. Although nasal or intestinal carriage of S aureus bacteria is not harmful on its own, S aureus infections, particularly those caused by methicillin-resistant S aureus (MRSA), can be severe and sometimes fatal.