North Carolina State Researchers Develop Probiotic Yeast That Produces Vitamins A Body Needs

RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – When you take a multivitamin, your body gets a dose of what it needs and what it may not need. If the gut could just figure out how to produce only the vitamins that are needed internally.

“Traditionally, what you have to do is produce this molecule in a factory somewhere, purify it to a high purity standard, which costs a lot of money, and then transfer that molecule to the person who has to take it. In this case, we put the plant inside the person, ”said Nathan Crook, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at North Carolina State University. “The microbe itself is relatively cheap to manufacture. Rather than having all of this expense with purifying molecules, you can do it right in your own gut.

NC State researchers have genetically modified a probiotic yeast that produces beta-carotene in the intestines of mice. The hope is that the same concept will work on humans, removing the guessing game of what we lack.

The idea is to help people who are suffering from malnutrition and to save money for everyone. It could also be a natural defense against disease.

“The goal would be for it to detect your health, and if it detects disease, then it will produce the molecule you are interested in,” Crook said.

Most yeasts are destroyed by acid in the gut or cannot be tolerated. The use by Crook and his team of the probiotic S. boulardii is growing.

“If these microorganisms live in your large intestine, they could potentially produce something a little more valuable than their normal products. We actually wanted to design these microbes to produce like a medicine or a vitamin from whatever food your body doesn’t care about, ”Cook said.

“So a lot of the nutrients go from your small intestine into your large intestine and those nutrients can be used by these insects to produce something more valuable.”

Using yeast to produce vitamins in us may seem a bit far-fetched to some. Crook remembered what happened in just a year.

“Basic research is so important to what we do. The notion of funding these very risky ideas is what makes things like the COVID vaccine possible, ”he said.

The results were published under the title “In situ bioproduction of small molecules in the intestine of mammals by the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii”, in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology. The co-first authors of the article are doctoral students Deniz Durmusoglu and Ibrahim Al’Abri. The article was co-authored by Scott Collins, a Ph.D. student at NC State; Junrui Cheng, postdoctoral researcher at NC State; Abdulkerim Eroglu, assistant professor of nutrigenomics in the Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry and the North Carolina State Plant Institute for Human Health; and Chase Beisel, professor at the Helmholtz Institute for RNA-Based Infections Research.

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