Food & Beverage

New Toxins Discovered in Bacteria Could Help in Treating Food Poisoning

New Toxins Discovered in Bacteria Could Help in Treating Food Poisoning

Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) developed a new substance that could help in treating bacterial infections and potentially save lives, especially serious food poisoning.

Food poisoning is a common cause for serious illness and sometimes may even cause death. According to New South Wales Ministry of Health (NSWH), food poisoning is estimated to affect 4.1 million Australians each year.

Bacillus cereus, one of the most common types of stomach bug, is responsible for producing toxins that cause vomiting and diarrhea. Researchers from the John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCMSR) at ANU, studied the developments of bacillus cereus bacteria and found how the bacteria work and how to combat it. The findings were published in the journal Nature Microbiology on December 11, 2018.

We found how this bacteria interacts with our immune system. We have discovered how it sustains itself and also how we might treat the nastiness it causes,” said Ms Anukriti Mathur, Ph.D. student, from the John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCMSR) at ANU and lead researcher of the study.

Bacillus cereus is found in vegetables, meat, fish, rice and pasta, and will grow profusely in these foods if it is stored at the wrong temperature. The researchers found that the bacteria are capable of secreting toxins remarkably in contaminated food.

“We discovered the toxin directly binds to the cell and punches holes to kill the cell, the immune system responds to the infection and has a reaction. Because we now know how the bacteria and the toxins work, we can fight it and find ways to use the immune system against it,” added Mathur.

The researchers believe that their findings will be vital in understanding and treating serious cases of food poisoning. Moreover, it will also help those patients who have a compromised immune system.