Much of Mellata's earlier research involved chickens, which are susceptible to avian pathogenic E. coli, or APECa subgroup of ExPEC. Bacterial outbreaks at chicken farms have caused major economic losses for the poultry industry and infected chicken products are a likely transmission route for bacteria to infect humans.
Biodesign's new research into ExPEC has two goals: 1) assess the food-borne health risk to vulnerable human populations 2) develop a novel and economical strategy to reduce or eliminate the contamination risks.
Toward the second goal, Mellata's team, with input from Roy Curtiss, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, will work to develop a suitable poultry vaccine to prevent the risk of infection at its source. The vaccine candidate is based on another food-borne disease culprit, salmonella, which the Curtiss group, through genetic engineering, has recast to create a suite of experimental vaccines against a range of human and animal pathogens. The project compliments an ongoing, two-year, $400,000 National Institutes of Health award to develop a human vaccine against ExPEC.
By far the most widespread food-borne threats are not bacteria at all, but viruses. Of these, Norwalk-like viruses, or noroviruses (named for the first such outbreak of stomach flu in a school in Norwalk, Ohio in 1968), account for two-thirds of all food-borne illness cases, 33 percent of hospitalizations, and 7 percent of deaths.
Arntzen and colleague Chris Diehnelt will collaborate on a multi-institutional $25 million USDA led by North Carolina State Universitythe largest funding initiative ever directed specifically at food-borne illness. Arntzen notes that "some viruses can contaminate the food supply, and a viral family called noroviruses is the worst of these in terms of causing hospitalization and lost work. The extreme diarrhea and discomfort caused by noroviruses
|Contact: Joe Caspermeyer|
Arizona State University