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Sweet Tooth May Be Achilles Heel of Salmonella

Scientists have shown that the Salmonella food poisoning bacterium requires glucose as a nutrient during infection, and that when it is unable to use this nutrient, infection is prevented. "This is the first time that anyone has identified the nutrients that sustain Salmonella while it is infecting a host's body," says Dr Arthur Thompson, the senior author of the report. Salmonella food poisoning causes infection in approximately 20 million people worldwide each year and is responsible for about 200,000 human deaths. It also infects farm animals and attaches to salad vegetables. During infection, Salmonella bacteria are engulfed by immune cells designed to kill them. Instead, however, the bacteria multiply. The scientists 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 the immune cells, rendering them harmless. The mutant strains still stimulate the immune system, and the scientists have filed patents on these mutant strains which could be used to develop vaccines to protect people and animals against poisoning by fully virulent Salmonella. This work was published in the April 20 issue of Infection and Immunity. [Press release]