Researchers in Cork have claimed that a naturally occurring bacterium could help reduce the damage inflicted on the human body by respiratory viruses such as influenza.

The research was conducted by Dr David Groeger and his colleagues at PrecisionBiotics, which is a subsidiary of Novozymes OneHealth, in collaboration with APC Microbiome Ireland.

In their study, researchers said that two different Bifidobacterium longum strains administered through the nose protected mice from lung injury and improved the survival rate from influenza. The two strains tested in the study were Bifidobacterium longum 35624 and Bifidobacterium longum PB-VIR.
Findings were reported in EBioMedicine, which is published by The Lancet.

Flu season strategy

In the report, the team behind the research wrote that the study adds to a growing body of evidence that links successful anti-viral immune responses with the bacteria microbiota.
Researchers added that the overall implication of the study is that intra-nasal administration of specific microbial components can be utilised during the influenza season to protect individuals at high risk of poor outcomes from respiratory infection.

They claimed the beneficial effects seen in the study were due to a component of the bacterial cell wall that is sensed by the body’s immune system. This inhibits the cytokine storm and serious inflammatory damage associated with respiratory viruses.

Groeger added that the “protective effect was demonstrated by multiple different objective measures of inflammation, but the most impressive evidence was the reduction in mortality.”

Researchers suggested that intra-nasal administration of specific bacterial components may be “a simple, safe and effective strategy” during flu season, and the research is now moving toward human trials and deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms.

Kelly Earley

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