May 15, 2009

Scientists isolate cholesterol-eating bug

A bacteria found in sewage sludge could lead to products that reduce cholesterol contamination in urban areas, researchers in Spain said.

Gordonia bacteria, in general, already have proven useful in degrading pollutants such as phthalates used in plastics and rubber.

Gordonia cholesterolivorans, however, specifically shows promise for reducing cholesterol contamination found in sewage from cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, which use cholesterol as a stabilizer, emollient and water-binding agent, said Dr. Oliver Drzyzga, who led the team that isolated Gordonia cholesterolivorans at the University of Madrid.

Some Gordonia bacteria are harmful to humans, so it is unlikely the bacteria could be developed to treat high cholesterol in people, said Drzyzga.

Drzyzga's findings are reported in the current issue of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.