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UTMB Researchers Have Developed an Oral Vaccine Designed to Fight Salmonella

DEC 21, 2016 | KRISTI ROSA
Salmonella is responsible for around 1 million food-borne infections with 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although antibiotics are the go-to treatment option for these infections, Salmonella strains are continuing to rapidly develop resistance to these treatments and thus antibiotics are becoming less effective. Currently, there are no vaccines available to fight this troublesome food-borne infection; however, new research suggests this might be changing.

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston recently announced in a press release that they have developed an oral vaccine specifically designed to fight Salmonella.

In the past, these researchers developed injectable vaccines from three genetically-mutated versions of Salmonella Typhimurium. These vaccines proved effective in protecting mice against a lethal dose of the infection.

In this new study, the researchers designed the vaccine so that it can be taken orally, which they felt is an “added advantage” in that the vaccine will be using the same natural pathway that the bacteria use to get into the digestive system. In addition, the researchers felt that an oral vaccine would be easier less invasive than the injectable alternative.

In the press release, Asok Chopra, CSc, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at UTMB said, “In the current study, we analyzed the immune response of mice that received the vaccination by mouth as well as how they responded to a lethal dose of Salmonella. We found that the orally administered vaccines produced strong immunity against salmonella, showing their potential for future use in people.”

The study authors noted, that in addition to the growing concern over antibiotic-resistant Salmonella strains, the bacteria have also been used as bioweapons in the past. They mention specifically the intentional contamination of salad bars in Oregon by a religious cult, an action that resulted in 1,000 people falling ill.

With the help of a vaccine, healthcare officials may have a better handle on infection control when it comes to food contamination caused by Salmonella, intentional or otherwise. The researchers feel that their study’s findings show that the oral vaccine, when tested in mice, provided effective protection, and that the study methods could be extrapolated out to apply to humans.

Salmonella outbreaks have been plagued the United States this year, most recently in Hawaii, where the department of health recentlyupdated their food safety guidelines to protect the public from future outbreaks.  

To keep up-to-date on Salmonella and other outbreaks, be sure to check out the Contagion Outbreak Monitor.
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