Woman holding a pot of prebiotics, featured image for a blog on if science-engineered probiotics can treat MS?

Can science-engineered probiotics treat MS?

Scientists have engineered a probiotic with live bacteria which eased the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) in mice with the disease when it colonised the gut in a new study.

Researchers had discovered that a metabolite called lactate could help curb autoimmunity by activating immune signalling pathways. They then engineered bacteria to release the metabolite.

“The mechanism we found is like a brake for the immune system,” The scientists said, speaking of the way the mechanism involving lactate works. “In most of us, it’s activated, but in people with autoimmune diseases, there are problems with this brake system, which means the body has no way to protect itself from its own immune system.”

With further research, scientists think that these specialised probiotics could be beneficial for patients living with many different autoimmune diseases, including MS. They noted that probiotic treatment potentially could work well for constant, life-long treatment as when they colonise the gut, they continue to produce lactate in the body, whereas a medication that is taken reaches a peak level in the bloodstream, and then falls back down again.

“Engineered probiotics could revolutionise the way we treat chronic diseases,” they said. “By using synthetic biology to get probiotic bacteria to produce specific compounds relevant to diseases, we can take the benefits of probiotics and amp them up to the max.”