North Carolina State University Tracking and Minimizing Foodborne Bacteria with Cutting-Edge Technology

Investigators currently approach the challenges of containing an outbreak of foodborne illness from an epidemiological standpoint by attempting to link patients to a likely source of contamination. Dr. Rodolphe Barrangou is using a new technology known as CRISPR, which dramatically speeds up the editing of bacterial genetics, to examine the pathogen’s DNA and determine its origin and the route it took in triggering an outbreak.

Dr. Barrangou, who won two prestigious awards in 2016 for his role in developing CRISPR while working in private industry, is also using the process to potentially cure patients suffering from foodborne illness. He is programming phages—viruses that attack bacteria—to eliminate virulent strains of E. coli. This process could even be used against antibiotic-resistant strains, a rapidly mounting concern within the health community.

Universities play a vital role in serving the world. As a professor, I can share more about my CRISPR research and contribute to a broader range of applications and sciences.

– Dr. Rodolphe Barrangou

His process may prove better for patients than traditional antibiotics. Most antibiotics do not discriminate between good and bad bacteria. When they are taken to treat E. coli, they also kill microorganisms in the digestive tract that help people synthesize key nutrients. Barrangou’s CRISPR technique would only target the E. coli, leaving the patient’s gut flora intact and accelerating recovery.

Retaking The Field Volume 1 “Retaking the Field: The Case for a Surge in Agricultural Research” is a collaborative report from 13 partnering universities and the SoAR Foundation. The report provides a compelling case to policymakers and the public for increased federal agricultural research funding by celebrating the advances and exploring the untapped potential of the agriculture and food sciences. View The Issue
Retaking the Field Volume 1: The Case for a Surge in Agricultural Research Click to download report

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