Our Bold Idea
Melha Mellata, in collaboration with Roy Curtiss, director of the institute’s Centerfor Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, has fully characterized a Salmonella-basedvaccine candidate to provide protection against a leading poultry disease called avianpathogenic E. coli (APEC). The vaccine could also help prevent harmful bacterialinfections in humans. To create a vaccine for a USDA funded project, the APECgenes would be shuttled into the Salmonella bacteria in the hopes of triggering aprotective immune response against both Salmonella and E. coli. This double dutyvaccine could protect people not only against the increased risk of APEC causinghuman illness, but also against the most common food-borne illness, Salmonella.
“The best way to prevent this infection is to develop a vaccine,” said Mellata. “Ouridea is to ultimately protect both poultry and humans by finding a group of genescommon against all extra-intestinal E. coli.” With this new knowledge of APEC, thegroup hopes to pursue the development of several new vaccine candidates.
Mellata feels that now that her team has identified many of the APEC gene targetsthey will use, it represents the end of the beginning of their research journey todevelop a vaccine that will provide improved poultry health, an economic benefitto producers and enhanced food safety. “We wish to engineer a safe, easy to useSalmonella-based treatment that will be effective in eradicating ExPEC infections thatare responsible for significant loss of life and cost billions of dollars to the US healthcare system.”
Melha Mellata, PhD
Associate Research Professor
Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology