Contributed by: News Canada
(NC) - Summer is the season of backyard barbeques and campfire cookouts. Unfortunately, this means that summer is also the season of Salmonella poisoning.
"Sometimes in research you need to look at things from a different angle," says Dr. Amit Bhavsar at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Bhavsar is doing just that with his study on Salmonella's ability to evade the immune system.
Salmonella bacteria are very stealthy when it comes to causing disease. They can enter your body, invade your cells and start causing trouble before your immune system realizes what's happening.
The bacteria produce special molecules called effector proteins that contribute to Salmonella's stealth. The bacteria cell inserts the effectors directly into the host cell. Once inside, the effectors can dampen biochemical reactions that would normally trigger an immune response. Dr. Bhavsar is working to improve researchers' understanding of how effectors work.
Dr. Bhavsar's research is particularly promising because effectors are potential therapeutic targets for non-antibiotic treatments.
"With any bacterial pathogen, the prospect of antibiotic resistance is extremely relevant and probably already happening," says Dr. Bhavsar.
Antibiotics kill bacteria by targeting specific processes or structures in the bacterial cell. While this makes antibiotics great weapons against disease, it also means that these drugs exert tremendous pressure on bacteria to evolve antibiotic resistance. With the help of funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Dr. Bhavsar is working to lay the scientific groundwork for the development of new Salmonella fighting strategies.
"We hope to identify a small molecule that could prevent Salmonella effectors from blocking the immune response," explains Dr. Bhavsar. "The treatment would encourage the body's natural defenses to defeat Salmonella without the help of antibiotics."
Visit www.impact.cihr-irsc.gc.ca to find out more!
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