New discovery could lead to salmonella vaccine, say scientists
UK scientists have made a discovery which, they say, raises hopes of a potential vaccination against salmonella.
Their revelation – that the food poisoning bug feeds on glucose – could also lead to vaccine strains to protect against other disease-causing bacteria, including superbugs, according to Dr Arthur Thompson from the Institute of Food Research.
“This is the first time that anyone has identified the nutrients that sustain salmonella while it is infecting a host’s body, he explains.
The breakthrough was achieved in collaboration with Dr Gary Rowley at the University of East Anglia.
Salmonella food poisoning causes infection in around 20 million people worldwide each year and is responsible for about 200,000 deaths.
During infection, the bacteria are engulfed by immune cells designed to kill them. But instead the bacteria multiply. Salmonella must acquire nutrients to replicate, and so the scientists focused on glycolysis, the process by which sugars are broken down to create chemical energy. They constructed salmonella mutants unable to transport glucose into the immune cells they occupy and unable to use glucose as food. These mutant strains lost their ability to replicate within immune cells, rendering them harmless.
The mutant strains still stimulate the immune system, and the scientists have filed patents on them which could be used to develop vaccines to protect people and animals against poisoning by fully virulent salmonella.
This could also lead to the creation of vaccine strains for other pathogenic bacteria, including superbugs.
The next stage of the research will be to test whether the mutants elicit a protective immune response in mice.
The IFR is an institute of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The research was funded by a Core Strategic Grant.