Bacteria vs. Predator

Bacteria preying on other bacteria could be the solution to ocular antibiotic resistance


An army of predatory bacteria could one day be the go-to solution for stubborn ocular infections, a new study suggests.

The research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, looked at how safe it would be to use two predatory bacterial species – Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus and Micavibrio aeruginosavorus – on the eye.

The authors wrote that: “The use of predatory bacteria – bacteria that prey on other bacteria – is gaining interest as an ‘out of the box’ therapeutic treatment for multidrug-resistant pathogenic bacterial infections.”

The researchers first looked at the effect of the two species on human corneal cells grown in a laboratory. They tested for the presence of two key inflammatory chemical signals, and found that the predatory bacteria induced the production of one, but not both.

The research team, including University of Pittsburgh associate professor, Dr Robert Shanks, then compared the effects of the predatory bacteria against an ocular antibiotic, vancomycin, and a saline solution in the eyes of rabbits.

They found that, in comparison, predatory bacteria were “well tolerated” and did not impact corneal healing processes.

As a follow-up, Dr Shanks and his team are now looking at the predatory bacterial species’ effectiveness at treating an eye infection in rabbits.

He told OT that: “We are currently engaged in testing the efficacy of the predatory bacteria B. bacteriovorus for its ability to eradicate the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa … using isolates of P. aeruginosa that were obtained from patients that experienced contact lens-associated keratitis to make sure that we are working with relevant strains.”