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Bacteria found in yogurt can help broken bones heal faster

By Krista Charles

Bacteria from yogurt could help heal broken bones

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Coated implants bacteria could be used during fracture surgery to speed healing and prevent post-operative infections.

When someone suffers a fracture, surgery is sometimes required to aid proper healing. A common technique is to use a metal implant to keep broken bones in alignment as they heal. The bone fuses with the metal during the repair.

Lei Tan from Hubei University in Wuhan, China, and his colleagues tested whether coating an implant with the bacterium Lactobacillus casei contained in yogurt could improve recovery. It is known that this species regulates the immune environment, which may aid tissue formation, and releases antibacterial substances.

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To do this, the researchers gave rats with broken tibias titanium implants. Three of the rats received standard implants and three had implants coated with dead L. casei bacteria.

After four weeks, the team found that bone tissue increased by 27 percent in rats with bacteria-covered implants and by 16 percent in rats with regular implants. An increase in bone tissue is a sign that the fracture is healing.

A potential risk for implants is infection where the implant meets the bone. Therefore, the team also tested whether the L. Casei-treated implant is more resistant to infection by coating it with multi-resistant MRSA bacteria that can cause infections. After 12 hours, the researchers found that 99.9 percent of these pathogens were dead.

Bacteria play an important role in the gut microbiome, and there is increasing evidence that their benefits can be used outside of the gut, says Matthew Wook Chang of the National University of Singapore.

Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.aba5723

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