Drugs industry has antidote to E.coli food poisoning bug – and done nothing with it for 11 years
The pharmaceutical industry has had the solution to the latest E.coli food poisoning outbreak for 11 years, and done nothing with it. The bug, which started in Germany, has so far killed 26 people, and infected around 2,700 more throughout Europe.
Researchers at Adelaide University in Australia developed a probiotic bacterium that binds and neutralizes the toxins in the E.coli bug 11 years ago. Its effectiveness was proven in medical trials in 2000 – but it’s stayed in the laboratory ever since because the drug industry has not taken it up.
“The probiotic bacterium could be produced cheaply on a large scale. However…there has been a lack of interest from the commercial sector in taking this product forward,” says Dr Adrienne Paton, one of the original research team members.
Had the drugs industry developed the university’s initial research, the probiotic could have been deployed in the current virulent outbreak and would doubtlessly have saved lives, she said.
(Source: Nature Medicine, 2000; 6: 265-70).