A mix of relaxation and fun, plus scientific learning, has
been crucial to the success of the University of Otago's
annual Hands on Science programme, on its 25th anniversary
That is the view of Prof John Tagg, of the Otago microbiology
and immunology department, who has always strongly supported
the national secondary school science camp, hosted by Otago
Prof Tagg yesterday gave a 7.30pm open lecture on the
positive future of ''probiotics'', at St David lecture
theatre, on the first day of the annual, week-long science
Blis is a probiotic food supplement, and is the brainchild of
Prof Julian Crane, of Otago University's Wellington campus,
was recently granted $790,319 to lead the first large-scale
clinical trial of Blis.
This food supplement, containing a naturally-occurring
probiotic bacteria, Strep salivarius, will be used in a bid
to prevent Group A Streptococcal (GAS) sore throat
infections, among a group of people at high risk of rheumatic
GAS infections can sometimes lead to rheumatic fever and
rheumatic fever can result in rheumatic heart disease, which
itself leads to 160 deaths in New Zealand each year.
Many doctors had previously focused on the use of
antibiotics, but with the advent of the first large-scale
clinical trial of Blis, Prof Tagg sensed that opinions could
be starting to change.
Probiotics such as Blis used naturally-occurring
microorganisms to improve health, and carefully remove
By contrast, antibiotics killed microorganisms
indiscriminately, even if they were a useful part of the
body's microfauna, he said in an interview.
There was scope for a ''beautiful combination'' of
antibiotics and probiotics.
After antibiotic use, probiotics could ''plant'' healthy
microorganisms, to limit problems with infections, such as
thrush, taking hold.