Episode Summary

Engineered bacteria could help people digest an essential nutrient when they can't digest it themselves!

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Kadipiro virus

News discussed

Jesse's takeaways

Treating genetic disorders can be very difficult. Sometimes they can be managed, with lifestyle, diet, or medication, but cure has almost always been out of the picture. With a disorder such as phenylketonuria (PKU), for example, in which the body is unable to fully metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine, diet and medication may work to some extent.

In an effort to provide better options for PKU, scientists at Synlogic, Inc have created a strain of Escherichia coli that produces phenylalanine-degrading enzymes in the gut. The hope is that ingesting this bacterium could allow PKU patients to be less restrictive with their diet.

Journal Paper

Isabella VM, Ha BN, Castillo MJ, Lubkowicz DJ, Rowe SE, Millet YA, Anderson CL, Li N, Fisher AB, West KA, Reeder PJ, Momin MM, Bergeron CG, Guilmain SE, Miller PF, Kurtz CB, Falb D. 2018. Development of a synthetic live bacterial therapeutic for the human metabolic disease phenylketonuria. Nat Biotechnol 36:857–864.

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