Stopping Salmonella—and Antimicrobial Resistance
The use of antimicrobials to control Salmonella infection in livestock and poultry has created an arms race that pits antimicrobial drug development against resistance acquisition by the pathogen. The bacteria either develop resistance or die. With this selective pressure, it’s a race the bacteria are bound to win, while perpetuating the spread of antimicrobial resistance.
Craig Altier, Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, is searching for an alternative approach. Altier and his team are identifying non-lethal ways to inhibit the expression of Salmonella invasion genes, which are required for virulence and carriage. If they can inhibit the invasion genes without killing the pathogen, it removes the selective pressure and would inhibit the development of resistance.
The team is working to prove their hypothesis that the spread of Salmonella in production animals can be controlled using chemical compounds that repress the essential virulence functions of the pathogen without affecting its viability. The Altier lab aims to determine the mechanisms by which the chemical compounds affect Salmonella invasion and to identify the most effective chemical inhibitors to the invasion.
This work has the potential to identify new classes of chemical interventions that inhibit salmonellosis in a novel way, by affecting virulence functions. The great advantage of this approach is that, due to the mechanism of Salmonella pathogenesis, it is unlikely to generate resistant mutants. Therefore, it presents a promising alternative to the use of antimicrobials in livestock and poultry production.