Rice can help treat cholera better

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London: The main treatment for cholera involves oral rehydration

therapy where the patient drinks water mixed with salts and glucose

which can increase the toxicity of the cholera bacterium.

Scientists have now shown that replacing glucose with rice powder can

reduce its toxicity by almost 75 percent.

"The problem is that the infecting bacterium also consumes glucose and

that increases the expression of its genes that make it toxic," said

Melanie Blokesch from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL)

in Lausanne.

Blokesch and Andrea Rinaldo at EPFL correlated data from a recent

cholera outbreak in Haiti with the effectiveness of oral rehydration


Blokesch's lab grew the cholera bacterium with different sugars and

starch from potatoes and rice to see how each would affect the cholera

toxin genes.

The scientists found that both the activity of the genes, as well as

the production of the cholera toxin itself were increased when the

bacterium was fed with glucose but they were considerably decreased

when it was fed with starch from rice.

"Although the explanation for this is complicated, one of the reasons

is that the type of sugar available to the bacterium affects the

mechanisms that regulate the activity of its toxin-producing genes.

Ultimately, this effect influences the bacterium's ability to infect

humans," Blokesch added.

"We are not saying stop doing oral rehydration therapy with glucose

right away because it works so well," Blokesch added.

But still, the data suggests that the regimen can be significantly

improved, and that the community needs to start discussing this

possibility again – especially in areas endemic to cholera, the

authors concluded.

The work was published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Credit: IANS

Kofi Oppong Kyekyeku

I am a Ghanaian Broadcast Journalist/Writer who has an interest in General News, Sports, Entertainment, Health, Lifestyle and many more.

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