WSU researchers advance research to block common food poisoning in humans

Bryan Hall on the Washington State University campus

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University researchers have discovered a protein that could be used to block the most common bacterial cause of food poisoning in humans.

If you have ever eaten undercooked chicken or other poultry, or accidentally contaminated other food while washing raw chicken, that may not have been salmonella but the more common campylobacter.

According to a recent study published in Nature Communications, a secreted protein called CiaD helps campylobacter infect the cell and take control of important cell processes by changing the composition of proteins inside the cell.

As researchers learn how the infection occurs, their research helps lay a foundation to understand how they happen and why the infections persist.

Before this study, these insights into the bacteria’s proteins and how they infect a cell were mostly unknown.

“We knew these things were happening, but we didn’t know how,” said Nick Negretti, a lead member of the WSU research team said. “Now, if we can stop this process, disease won’t happen.”

The research was funded by a $1.9 million grant from the National Institute of Health.

Campylobacter accounts for 400 to 500 million cases of diarrhea annually, and the World Health Organization named it a serious threat because of its resistance to antibiotics.

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