Volume 93, Issue 53

Friday, December 3, 1999


CASA wish-list announced

City toys with budget surplus

Napster goes off-line for students

Hands-on learning in cyberspace

Preventative bacteria probed

Donation fuels AIDS education

Keep fit, have fun and warm down


Caught on campus

Buzz Mecca

Preventative bacteria probed

By Tola Afolabi
Gazette staff

A London doctor is taking the battle of good against evil to the molecular level in an effort to treat female bacterial infections.

Gregor Reid, associate scientific director at the Lawson Research Institute, is studying lactobacilli bacteria and their role in the prevention of urinary and vaginal infections.

Reid said lactobacilli have many properties which are beneficial to humans. "A lot of focus is on bacteria that cause diseases. Our work is on bacteria that don't cause disease."

Lactobacilli prevents disease-causing bacteria from colonizing in the gut and later causing urinary and vaginal infections, Reid explained.

He added such infections cause an unbalance in the body, increasing the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, miscarriages and premature births.

"If the balance is changed, we are in trouble. We can restore balance by administering lactobacteria," he said.

Reid said a study is being performed on 40 women to investigate the colonization of lactobacilli. The women take two freeze-dried bacteria capsules daily for a month.

He added the procedure was non-invasive and he doesn't expect any side effects. "Every week they provide us with a vaginal and rectal swab," he said, adding the samples are examined for the presence of lactobacilli.

Reid said not enough research has been done on urinary and vaginal infections. "We estimate a million women [in the country] get those infections a year."

He added research is important since the current treatment, which is the administration of antibiotics, poses a problem as bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics over time.

Reid said he expects $200,000 in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

"We received word that it's being awarded a week ago. I expect the money to come in January," he said.

Hanan Abdell-Alcher, program officer of collaborative health research projects with NSERC, said the grant was not yet finalized.

"The application hasn't been officially funded. The official letter hasn't been signed. We hope to do that early next week."

Sara Galsworthy, associate professor of microbiology at Western, agreed alternatives to the treatment of urinary and vaginal infections were needed.

"I think that certain aspects of [the issue] are not receiving enough attention. It's an annoying issue, an irritating issue. Recurrence becomes more of a problem," Galsworthy said.

She added women are more at risk for infections because of childbirth and hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999