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News

Vaccine for typhoid and food poisoning possible, after scientists decode structure of proteins and stomach sugars

Society For General Microbiology : 13 September, 2005  (Company News)
Scientists have identified a key molecule used by Salmonella food poisoning bacteria to break into our gut walls, leading to hope for a vaccine, in research presented today at the Society for General Microbiology's 157th Meeting at Keele University, UK.
Scientists have identified a key molecule used by Salmonella food poisoning bacteria to break into our gut walls, leading to hope for a vaccine, in research presented today at the Society for General Microbiology's 157th Meeting at Keele University, UK.

Salmonella kills millions of people every year and causes a wide variety of illnesses from typhoid fever to food poisoning by using a unique ability to break through the lining in our guts, allowing the bacteria to enter our bodies. Once inside our guts they evade our natural defences by hijacking protective cells called macrophages, which would normally attack invaders of our bodies.

Scientists from Trinity College Dublin have identified a protein molecule called PagN which Salmonella uses to get into our gut cells. The molecule sticks to chains of sugars that project out from our intestinal surface.

'PagN has a shape resembling a cooper's barrel and has a very strong positive charge, allowing it to interact with chains of very negatively-charged sugars that emanate from the lining of our gut,' explains Matthew Lambert of Trinity College.

'Defining the mechanism Salmonella uses to enter and survive within our gut will give us an increased understanding of how bacteria cause disease. Any of the bacteria's weaknesses may be highlighted during this process. These chinks in the pathogen's armour can be exploited to develop anti-microbial agents to combat salmonella infections,' says Matthew Lambert.

'Interestingly, PagN has been found in all Salmonella tested and the gene has been seen in every genome of Salmonella that has been sequenced,' says Matthew Lambert. 'This newly defined protein molecule PagN may work as a target for effective vaccine development.'
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