Global health R&D at work in Idaho
Researchers at the University of Idaho are adapting the novel genome editing technology CRISPR to combat enteropathogenic E. coli, or EPEC—a diarrheal disease that kill hundreds of thousands of children worldwide each year. The researchers will test a two-part approach. First, they will engineer a bacteriophage, a virus that infects bacteria, to recognize and cut a DNA sequence found specifically in EPEC. Delivered via probiotics, this should kill the EPEC in the intestinal tract without affecting beneficial bacteria. Second, they will use custom-designed probiotics to deliver beneficial strains of E. coli with the ability to fight off the disease-causing strains. A key advantage of probiotics is that they are less disruptive to children's digestive tracts than antibiotics, which often kill both healthy and disease-causing bacteria.