BT Crystal Toxin in Food-Grade Bacillus

We are working with the laboratory of Dr. Raffi Aroian and three other co-investigators in an effort to develop a probiotic therapy for intestinal worm infections, a pervasive affliction of children in the developing world.  We are taking advantage of the fact that these worms (roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms) are killed by the proteinaceous insecticidal toxins that are produced by the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, and that vertebrates, including humans, are not susceptible to these toxins. We want our therapeutic to be completely safe, so we have decided to produce the toxins in a

food-grade Bacillus.  We have chosen Bacillus subtilis natto, which is used in the preparation of natto, a fermented soybean preparation that is a Japanese food staple.  Once these strains are constructed, Dr. Aroian and his colleagues will test their efficacy in rodents.  B. subtilis natto expressing these nematocidal toxins can be produced inexpensively in large

quantities, so we expect that this therapy will be effective and affordable in very low resource settings.  This work is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.