WEST LAFAYETTE – Modified probiotics, the beneficial bacteria in digestive health, could one day decrease the risk of Listeria infection in people susceptible immune systems, according to Purdue University research.
Researcher Arun Bhunia, Mary Anne Amalaradjou and Ok Kyung Koo, found that the same Listeria protein that allows bacteria to pass through intestinal cells and into bloodstreams can help block those same paths when added to a probiotic.
Once in the bloodstream, even small doses of Listeria can cause fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea as well as headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it sickens 1,500 people a year and kills 255 people annually.
Bhunia said the discovery could lead to creation of a pill or probiotic drink that could be given to at-risk patients to minimize the risk of Listeria infection.