With all of the craze over the pandemic recently, we have almost forgotten about the other vaccines that are needed in this world. There are so many other diseases worldwide that need to be fixed, with Salmonella being a major widespread problem. However, a vaccine is in the works, and researchers have come up with an innovative way to solve this issue.
Salmonella is an infectious disease that can be spread and disseminated through contaminated food, water, and animals. The non-typhoidal infection affects nearly 95 million people a year, and results in around 2 million deaths annually. Unfortunately, there is no known vaccine for salmonella in humans,
Along with decades of research in the search for an effective way to combat viral diseases, progress has been made to create vaccines for bacterial infections. In order to create a vaccine against these bacterial infections, scientists have invented a creative way to fight them.
The method that scientists have come up with involves the way that cells communicate with each other. “Cells communicate with each other through particles called extracellular vesicles or EVs. Think of these like molecular telephones that let cells talk to each other. We wanted to know if some of those messages included information related to immune response,” says Winnie Hui, microbiologist.
To see if this hypothesis would hold true, researchers took a specific kind of these vesicles called exosomes from white blood cells infected by salmonella. Inside these exosomes, researchers found salmonella antigens, which are small bits of the salmonella bacteria that produce an immune response. When tested on mice, they developed antibodies to salmonella within weeks of the test.
To explain how this works, Hui explains that this phenomenon was created through adaptive immunity, a protective response that is perfectly tailored to fight off a specific pathogen. And while this new method of creating vaccines shows promise, there is yet much to learn before it is ready to help people worldwide.
“Our study has identified a novel role of exosomes in the protective responses against salmonella, but we also think that exosomes can find broader applications for other intestinal infections and beyond,” says Mariola Edelmann, Hui’s research partner.
The researchers say that exosomes have the unique ability to encapsulate valuable information but also use the information to target specific diseases in the body. In the near future, we will see vaccines with exosomes become a pervasive and efficient solution for bacterial infections.