Probiotics talk in Cape Town

Feb 27, 2014 No Comments by

On 19th March, Professor Leon Dicks FRSSAf, Industrial, Food and Medical Microbiologist, University of Stellenbosch will present a talk ‘Researching the Health Benefits of Probiotics’. Abstract: The probiotic properties of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are well known. However, the marked increase in antibiotic-resistant pathogens and the decrease in efficacy of conventional antibiotics have steered probiotic and antimicrobial research into a different direction.  Antimicrobial peptides produced by (probiotic) lactic acid bacteria are now being developed into “new age antibiotics” to provide protection against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and the gangster of them all, Clostridium difficile.  Some of the peptides produced by LAB have the ability to target and destroy cancer cells in vivo.  This sounds great, but like many things in life, there are more obstacles than pleasures.  The biggest challenge lies in finding a way to protect the peptides from proteolytic enzymes so that they reach their target cells in an intact, and active, form.

Some probiotics produce neurotransmitters or neuromodulators that modify gastrointestinal functions such as motility and sensation.  Serotonin, one of the best studied neurotransmitters, relieves depression.  Serotonin is also produced in the gastro-intestinal tract, which acts on nerves and mast cells situated on the surface of blood vessels.  Some patients suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) may have increased serotonin levels in their GIT.

Many short-term studies have shown that probiotics may prevent neuro-inflicted damage to the prefrontal cortex and may reverse conditions normally associated with Alzheimers.  Other reports claim that probiotics may boost your IQ.  A new phrase, “psychobiotics” was coined.  Many of these findings are, however, based on specific strains of only a few species.

The presentation is a broad overview of the beneficial properties of probiotic lactic acid bacteria and summarises the research we do on probiotics and their antimicrobial peptides, including our most recent research on proteomics, nanoparticles and nanofibers.

Date:     Wednesday 19th March 2014
Time:    17h00 (Tea will be served from 16h30)
Place:    South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) Auditorium, Observatory Road, Observatory*

*Directions to SAAO Auditorium : From the N2, turn off to the M57 – Liesbeek Parkway; turning in the direction of Cape Town and continue until the traffic lights with Hartleyvale (hockey and football) on your left. Turn right at traffic lights into Observatory Road, pass the River Club; the S A Astronomical Observatory is next on the left. Once through the security gates bear left following the SALT signs to the auditorium i.e. last building on the left (white with stoep & ramp).                                 NO BOOKINGS / ALL WELCOME




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