Salmonella is currently treated with antibiotics, but some strains are rapidly developing antibiotic resistance.
Salmonella, a bacterium that hides in contaminated food and water, causes about 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths per year in the United States alone, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Antibiotics are the go-to treatment for salmonella, but some strains of the bacterium are rapidly developing resistance to the available antibiotic treatments, flagging serious concern.
Plus, food-borne illness isn’t the only way that salmonella can do its damage — it can also be used as a bioweapon. In a small town in Oregon, there was a case of a religious cult intentionally contaminating restaurant salad bars with salmonella, infecting about 750 people.
There are currently no vaccines available for salmonella poisoning, but a team of researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston are working to change that.
In previous work, the UTMB team developed potential vaccines from three genetically mutated versions of salmonella bacteria. The vaccines, administered via injections, were shown to protect mice against lethal doses of salmonella.
Now, the researchers have one-upped themselves by developing an oral vaccine for salmonella — the simplest and least invasive way to offer people protection. In their latest study, the team gave mice the oral vaccine, and then analyzed their immune responses 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,” Ashok Chopra, professor of microbiology and immunology, said in a press statement.
Since the vaccine has only been tested with mice, there’s no guarantee that the results will translate over to humans, but it’s certainly an encouraging start.
The findings have been published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology.