Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Researchers try to kill it, use it, and otherwise figure out E. coli

EcoliO101_406x250Summer is usually seen as the peaking season for Escherichia coli, and this summer that may apply not only for recalls and outbreaks, but also research. The Gram-negative, facultatively anaerobic, rod-shaped bacterium commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms is a frequent target of laboratory research that gets published during the summer.

So far we’ve learned University of Alberta researchers believe there is a small percentage of mutant E. coli that are hard to kill with heat. They reported the heat resistant strain survived a 140 degree cooking temperature for 70 minutes, and even higher temperatures than the 160 degree cooking temperature recommended the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Meanwhile, however, researchers in Singapore created a new antimicrobial material they say is capable of killing E. coli bacteria is 30 seconds. Their work was published in the nano materials journal Small.

The Singapore discovery involves new synthesized chain-like structures of molecules known as chemical imidazolium oligomers. Antibiotics can render the bacteria impotent but leave cell membrane and structures, allowing the bacteria to generate new antibiotic-resistant cells.

The new antimicrobial material could be used in consumer and personal care products to prevent the spread of infectious disease, according to Jackie Y. Yang, executive director of Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

Ying said the growth of drug resistance bacteria crates an urgent need for new materials that can kill and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

The imidazolium oligomers are a white powder and are soluble in water. Once dissolved in alcohol, it gels spontaneouslly. The researchers believe it could be used in alcoholic sprays to sterilize homes and hospitals.

Finally, a multi-university research project has found that engineered E. coil vesicles can be used as a delivery system for vaccines. The team from Cornell, Iowa, Texas and Georgia published their work in the journal Cell Chemical Biology.

The work involves manipulating the biological machinery of living cell and has focused on using a domesticated lab strain of E. coli to create and deliver vaccines. Using outer membrane vesicles, or OMVs, as vaccine candidates has the advantage that they are potent adjuvants, meaning they would enhance the response to the antigen.

They would most likely be used for the more challenging vaccine targets.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

© Food Safety News