Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Fight It Off

Gut bacteria may be able to help hosts fend off viral infections, according to a paper appearing in Science from Georgia State University's Andrew Gewirtz and colleagues.

In mice, Gewirtz and his colleagues found that treatment with bacterial flagella could prevent rotavirus infection in mice as well as clear chronic infections. For this effect to occur, they say that both the flagellin receptors Toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5) and NOD-like receptor C4 (NLRC4) were needed. The flagella seemed to set off TLR5 activation in dendritic cells that then induced cytokine interleukin-22 (IL-22), which, in turn, led to changes in gene expression in intestinal epithelial cells.

"We were very, very surprised that a bacteria component offered powerful protection against a viral infection," Gewirtz tells NPR's Goats and Soda blog. "The basic thinking before was that bacteria have certain components on their surface that activate the immune system to fight bacteria, not viruses."

He adds that he hopes that these proteins will someday help treat rotavirus infections in developing countries where vaccines like the ones used in the US are less effective. 

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.