Researchers at Utrecht University have demonstrated how the pathogenic Salmonella bacteria takes advantage of one of the body's defence mechanisms in order to invade cells. This discovery marks an important step towards developing new medicines to prevent Salmonella infections. In the Netherlands, some 50,000 people are infected with Salmonella bacteria each year via raw animal products such as chicken or pork, eggs or dairy products. An article on these findings will be published in the scientific journal PLOS Pathogens on 14 February.
The researchers, led by infection biologist Dr Karin Strijbis, discovered that Salmonella takes advantage of defensive ‘mucins’ in order to invade intestinal cells and start an infection. This mucin, MUC1, is a large protein with many sugars (glycans) and is extremely common in cells in the intestinal tract.