Greg Gloor, together with a team of scientists at Western, McMaster and Guelph universities, worked to address the problem by developing what he calls "highly targeted nuclear warhead" molecule to modify an individual's microbiome and hone in on eradicating only bad bacteria , when they invade .

The project, Microbiota Modulation with a Hybrid CRISPR Nuclease, which provides research funding for high-impact projects seeking to develop novel microbiome-based therapies and provide proof-of-principle evidence for longer-term initiatives.

Researchers ability to change the composition of the microbiome is limited. Because antibiotics kill good and bad bacteria alike, medical intervention compromises the microbiome.

Gloor's project aims to provide controlled and accurate manipulation of the microbiome by using CRISPR gene editing technology, which allows genetic material to be added, removed or altered at particular locations in the genome, including that of bacteria.

Altering the microbiome with a hybrid CRISPR molecule would eradicate and only target pathogens  while slowing the growth of the bacterial population and help the body reach a healthy equilibrium.

"We are going to produce what we call a highly targeted warhead molecule, we can use the CRISPR (nucleus), attached to another nucleus, to make it more specific and more effective. any bacteria that we choose inside the gut, like, for example, C. difficile , "Gloor said.

"There are lots of very useful members of the clostridium genus but C. difficile is not among them." But if we can superficially target C. difficile, but leave the beneficial clostridia, that is ideal. gut and walking away, you go in with an assassin or a sniper and pick off the C. difficile. "

Gloor's team is using a different delivery mechanism than most to target bad bacteria with a hybrid CRISPR molecule. They are using conjugated plasma , just one of the bacterium mechanisms used to exchange genes.

The plasma can infect large swaths of bacteria in the gut . Edgell and his colleagues are allowing it to transfect the entire bacterial population, then activating it to specific bacteria whose DNA will be destroyed by the hybrid molecule. After this process is complete, the plasma would self-destruct.

"We envision that our CRISPR plasmid would be well-suited to chronic bacterial infections that are difficult to access with other types of antimicrobial agents," Edgell added. But the potential benefits of this project extend beyond precision medicine, Gloor said.

When companies make yogurts and fermented foods, which contain good bacteria, manufacturers are constantly fighting contamination. A hybrid CRISPR molecule could prevent infection of the good bacterial cultures. Environmental cleanup could benefit, as well, Gloor said.

At any time, in any situation where there are more than two bacteria  in the system, where one is beneficial, doing something in the health or industrial process, and the other one is not then you can target the bad one and reduce its numbers and allow the beneficial one to take over.