Phage treatment could control pathogen in infant formula

| November 3, 2015

phageResearchers at Seoul National University, South Korea, have identified a bacteriophage (a virus that infects bacteria) that is active against Cronobacter sakazakii – a potentially serious bacterial pathogen sometimes associated with infant formula.

The Korean research team, led by Professor Sangryeol Ryu, studied the antibacterial activity of a phage called “CR5” in infant formula inoculated with C. sakazakii and found that the pathogen could not be detected after 10 hours. CR5 was also active against other potentially pathogenic Cronobacter species.

C. sakazakii can cause infections in infants fed contaminated, rehydrated, powdered milk-based formula, and is often resistant to multiple antibiotics. In rare cases the infection can result in sepsis and meningitis, with high death rates and long-term effects on health for survivors.

There are limited options for controlling the pathogen in dehydrated formula apart from strict hygiene measures during manufacture. According to Professor Ryu, “In this study, we proved that C. sakazakii phage CR5 is an efficient biocontrol agent in infant formula. Therefore this bacteriophage treatment is a promising approach to solve this problem.”

The study is published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology and can be found here.

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Category: Research

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