Researchers at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a “living cellular therapeutic agent” that promises to protect the body from the side effects of antibiotics. It reduces the harmful effects of drugs on the patient’s intestines. Scientists described in an article published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

As Science Daily reports, researchers have modified a human-safe strain of bacteria that is often used in cheese production. By editing the genes, they altered them so that they could safely produce an enzyme that breaks down beta-lactam antibiotics and not pass this ability on to other bacteria.

The effect of the live preparation was tested on mice. The researchers found that their bacteria significantly reduced the harmful effects of ampicillin on the intestinal microflora and allowed it to fully recover within three days. In contrast, mice that received only antibiotic experienced a much greater loss of microbial diversity.

Most common antibiotics are beta-lactam – penicillin, ampicillin, amoxicillin, etc. New bacteria reduce their harmful effects in the gut, where the action of the drug is not required. However, antibiotics continue to work in other parts of the body and do their job without losing effectiveness. Thus, the researchers hope to preserve the intestinal microflora and prevent the emergence of new species of bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

“We are now focusing on getting this live therapy to patients and completing an effective, concise and inexpensive clinical trial,” said the lead author of the study.