UCC boffins find secrets of 'friendly' tummy bugs
TWO Irish scientists have helped unlock the secret of stomach bugs that uniquely help prevent serious infections and allergic reactions, writes Ralph Riegel.
University College Cork (UCC) researchers Dr Mary O'Connell-Motherway and Prof Douwe van Sinderen successfully discovered the gene responsible for allowing a special probiotic or 'friendly' bacteria to colonise the human intestine.
UCC has hailed the breakthrough as "a major landmark".
A whole new wave of commercial products and treatments for stomach and intestinal disorders is expected.
The research was published in the 'National Academy of Sciences USA' journal yesterday.
For decades, scientists knew that a particular family of bugs -- the Bifidobacterium breve bacteria -- offered significant health benefits once they had colonised the human intestine and stomach but never quite understood how they did this.
But the UCC team found the bugs use unique finger-like appendages to attach themselves to the intestine wall, giving the bacteria a major advantage over the potentially harmful bacteria.