Scientists at Birmingham University have made a breakthrough towards savings thousands of lives from salmonella.
They have identified a protein present in non-typhoidal salmonella that could form the basis of a new vaccine to protect people against the dangerous and sometimes deadly infection.
Researchers revealed a protein found on the surface of the bug, called OmpD, may protect against these infections when purified from the bacteria and used in a vaccine.
It would enable the body to produce antibodies that specifically recognise OmpD.
These could then bind to the bacteria, blocking them from spreading through the body via the blood and causing severe illness.
Dr Adam Cunningham, who led the team from Birmingham and worked closely with collaborators in Mexico and Cambridge, said the global impact of the breakthrough is significant.
“In the western world, gut infections caused by this salmonella clear up within a week or so,” said Dr Cunningham.
“In the developing world, particularly in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa, these bacteria kill many tens of thousands of infants and HIV positive adults every year.
“The presence of proteins that bind it in a specific way, means that someone who has antibodies to salmonella has a lower chance of having severe disease than someone who does not have antibodies.”