Typhoid fever caused by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi) is a major global health concern with continuing outbreaks occurring in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Typhoid fever kills 200,000 people every year and sickens 21 million. Multidrug-resistant strains of S. Typhi are rapidly spreading. One of the most effective countermeasure alternatives to antibiotics would be to target essential virulence mechanisms of typhoid fever. Little, however, is known about the pathogenic mechanisms specific to S. Typhi.
Jeongmin Song, Microbiology and Immunology, is developing new approaches to treat typhoid fever. One such essential virulence factor specific to S. Typhi is a recently discovered toxin: typhoid toxin. Typhoid toxin has many unique structural and functional features. When administered to laboratory animals, typhoid toxin recapitulated many of the characteristic symptoms of typhoid fever, such as lethargy, malaise, stupor, leukopenia, and neurological complications. The researchers are finding that typhoid toxin play a similar role during human infection.
Song’s lab is working to better understand how each subunit of typhoid toxin contribute to its virulence. With their research, Song and her team are defining the precise role(s) of typhoid toxin’s subunits in virulence. This will offer important insights into the development of effective strategies for targeting the pathogenic mechanisms specific to S. Typhi and attenuating S. Typhi virulence.
NIH Award Number: 1R01AI137345-01A1