From bench to bedside – Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917
The human gut microbiome, its role in our health and, indeed, disease is not new, but with the arrival of antibiotics, interest within the medical community quickly waned.
As antibiotic resistance has become a worldwide problem, the last 20 years have seen a renaissance in microbiological research and therapy that today includes novel ways certain bacterial species may potentially be used to deliver other drugs.
For over 100 years Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917 (EcN) has been the active substance of the probiotic Mutaflor® and is today considered one of the most investigated bacterial strains.
EcN was isolated by Alfred Nissle from the faeces of a soldier in 1917 during the First World War in a region which was heavily contaminated by shigella and this soldier, in contrast to his comrades, did not develop diarrhoea or any other intestinal disease.
Nissle, previously demonstrated how some E.coli isolates could display antagonistic properties toward other species, including pathogenic enterobacteria and Nissle rightly concluded this soldier carried an antagonistically strong E.coli strain.
Decades later research has revealed the many strain specific characteristics of this versatile E.coli strain and include being ‘biologically fit’, able to create its own biofilm, anti-inflammatory, immune modulating properties and able to maintain mucosal integrity and help preventing the symptoms of ‘leaky gut’.
Today, considered a reference strain or model microorganism in many studies, E.coli strain Nissle 1917 continues to reveal novel probiotic properties.
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Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917-from bench to bedside and back: history of a special Escherichia coli strain with probiotic properties. Sonnenborn U. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2016 Oct;363(19). pii: fnw212. Epub 2016 Sep 11.