Microorganisms have been used for a long time in food and alcoholic fermentation. In the last few years they have undergone scientific scrutiny of their preventative and therapeutic aspects. This has led to the discovery of a new term, probiotics. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are microbial communities normally present in the intestine of most animals. They play an important role in humans and other animals, and act as immunomodulators. They are helpful in the treatment and prevention of disease as well as improving the digestion and absorption of nutrients. Probiotic microorganisms include the LAB Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Use of these live bacteria to elicit an immune response or to carry a vaccine component is a new invention in vaccine development. The advantage of live bacterial vaccines is that they mimic natural infection, have intrinsic adjuvant properties and can be given orally. Components of pathogenic and nonpathogenic food-related microorganisms are currently being evaluated as candidates for oral vaccines.
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