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Media opportunity: Researchers at Dalhousie University discover new route of infection for salmonella, challenging previous understanding of the food poisoning bacteria
Researchers from Dalhousie University and institutes in the U.K. and U.S. have discovered a new mechanism that allows common bacteria like salmonella and shigella to cause intestinal infections.
Salmonella uses a molecular 'syringe' to inject bacterial proteins into human cells that line the gut. These proteins allow the bacterium to invade the host cells and establish a site of replication, which can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps and fever.
The research team determined that one of the proteins the bacteria infuse into human cells promotes the production of naturally occurring growth signals and allows infected cells to proliferate -- the opposite of what was previously understood about the protein's role.
The discovery greatly enhances the understanding of these infections and the mechanism by which chronic salmonella infections can cause gallbladder cancer. The findings, published today in Nature Cell Biology, are the first step in developing a potential treatment strategy for severe infections and gallbladder cancer.
Dr. Gregory Fairn, a professor in Dalhousie's Department of Pathology and co-author of the study, is available to discuss how these new insights reconcile conflicting data from the last 20 years and finally reveal how a particular protein can cause cell proliferation and cancer.
Senior Research Reporter
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