Vaccinations have long been considered a safe and effective preventative measure that helps to build the body's immunity to viruses. When it comes to bacterial pathogens, humans have always been caught off-guard, until now. Salmonella enterica is one of the most common food-borne illnesses in the world. Barry Neil Duplantis's inventive vaccine technology, developed while he was working on his PhD at the University of Victoria, stops potential salmonella infections at the source by allowing animals (in this case chickens) to be effectively vaccinated against the disease, preventing its spread to humans.
Not only is the approach unique, the technological platform is also a breakthrough, using weakened strains of bacteria that can be injected into the animals but are modified to prevent them from spreading as an uncontrollable infection.
Here is how it works: Dr. Duplantis removes specific genes from cold-loving bacteria and substitutes them for counterpart genes in lukewarm-loving bacteria to create a weakness. When this sample is injected into a human, our body temperature prevents the bacteria from spreading. When the bacteria sample is warmed by the body's core, the cold-loving genes substituted into the bacteria prevent it from being a viable pathogen. The technology can be adapted to create similar temperature-sensitive vaccines to combat a range of bacterial pathogens.
Dr. Duplantis's innovation has opened the door to simple, safe and low-cost treatments against bacterial infections. In the case of Salmonella enterica, it is expected to help rid the health care system of millions of infections each year and, in future, humans could be vaccinated against common bacteria.