Each year more than half a million infants worldwide, primarily in developing countries, die from diarrhoea caused by rotavirus. In a collaborative study by researchers investigating rotaviral diarrhoea, “good bacteria” (probiotics) were combined with antibodies known to cure rotaviral-caused diarrhoea, resulting in a reduced incidence of gastro-intestinal infection in animal model.

The researchers found that the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG probiotic strain, in combination with a lower dose than usual of antibodies, provides protection against infection that is almost as effective as a higher dose of the antibodies alone, thus making a saving of up to 90 percent on antibodies to treat diarrhoea.

The antibody chosen, hyperimmune bovine colostrums (HBC), is known to be effective in clinical settings as a cure of rotaviral diarrhoea, but is an expensive treatment.

The research team compared the efficacy of six probiotic bacteria in combating diarrhoea in animal models. Research showed that 59 percent of animal subjects did not develop rotaviral diarrhoea when L. rhamnosus GG was given before infection with rotavirus. In comparison, only seven percent of mice escaped rotavirus infection without prophylactic intervention.

A dose of 100 µg is the most promising approach to prophylaxis against rotaviral diarrhoea, but a combination therapy of a low, ten µg dose of HBC and L. rhamnosus GG is nearly as effective.

"The implications of this study are very positive for low-income countries" says Neha Pant from the Karolinska Institute. "Antibodies and probiotics could be used to complement the standard oral rehydration therapy for fluid loss during diarrhoea, and may help to relieve the immense disease burden posed by rotavirus in the developing world.

MEDICA.de; Source: BioMed Central