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Antibiotic-Resistant Typhoid Tracked & Targeted For Vaccination

Asian Scientist Magazine

Vaccines rather than antimicrobials should be used in the fight against typhoid fever, researchers say. Multidrug resistant typhoid infections are increasing globally, thanks to the spread of a single dominant strain called H58. The findings, published in Nature Genetics, will provide new targets to design a vaccine against the strain, which causes serious and untreatable infections in millions of people each year.

The new data will also inform strategies for surveillance of the bacterium and the emergence of antimicrobial resistance and will inform the prevention and control of typhoid through the use of effective antibiotics, introduction of vaccines, water and sanitation programs. Typhoid affects around 30 million people each year and multidrug resistant strains of Salmonella Typhi—the bacteria that cause typhoid fever—are becoming common in many developing countries.

Dr. Kathryn Holt, senior author from the University of Melbourne said there is an urgent need to develop global surveillance against the threat to public health caused by typhoid and other antimicrobial resistant pathogens. “Multidrug resistant H58 has spread across Asia and Africa over the last 30 years, completely transforming the genetic make-up of the disease and creating a previously underappreciated and on-going epidemic through countries in Eastern and Southern Africa with important public health consequences,” Holt said.

This latest study is the culmination of nearly ten years of research for Holt, who has received national and international awards for the typhoid work that she began during her PhD studies at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, including a L’Oréal-UNESCO Women In Science Fellowship awarded last month in Paris.

“H58 is an example of an emerging multiple drug resistant pathogen which is rapidly spreading around the world,” says Professor Gordon Dougan, senior author from the Sanger Institute. “In this study we have been able to provide a framework for future surveillance of this bacterium, which will enable us to understand how antimicrobial resistance emerges and spreads intercontinentally, with the aim to facilitate prevention and control of typhoid through the use of effective antimicrobials, introduction of vaccines and water and sanitation programs.”

Holt remarked that in countries hit hardest by typhoid, the disease was controlled by antimicrobial drugs, instead of vaccination against typhoid. She emphasized the need to understand the spread of resistance. “Our next step is to turn this knowledge towards designing effective vaccine strategies,” said Holt.

That work will be supported by a £4 million strategic award from the Wellcome Trust, recently granted to Holt, Dougan and an international consortium of leading typhoid researchers.

Published: May 15, 2015. By Asian Scientist Magazine
Copyright © 2011-2015 Asian Scientist Magazine

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