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July 3, 1996

Probiotics: How Microorganisms Compete

Author Affiliations

Lawson Research Institute London, Ontario

JAMA. 1996;276(1):29-30. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540010031020

To the Editor.  —I was pleased to see the article on biotherapeutic agents by Dr Elmer and colleagues.1 The traditional response to microbial attack on a body system is to use antibiotics, but is this option exclusive or even optimal? The advent of antibiotics has strong roots in the recognition that microorganisms can, and do, use their own systems to compete and kill other organisms that vie for their ecological niche. Impressive chemical and genetic manipulations have superseded the extraction of microbial by-products. Indeed, chemical agents have saved countless lives. However, they are not the complete answer, and they will not stem the critical tide of microbial drug resistance.2The advent of molecular technologies has provided the tools to better understand the role of these agents in well-being. Using restriction fragment length polymorphism and plasmid profiling, we have shown that the colonization of a surface by an