Working to Better Understand Salmonella
Michael Barkoviak - March 17, 2009 3:59
Salmonella causes many
food-related illnesses across the world, with researchers poorly
understanding how to combat the bacteria
Even though most people connect NASA with space research involving
many manned shuttle launches include science experiments to help analyze
organic material. Two recent NASA
missions helped researchers on Earth better understand the Salmonella
bacteria, hopefully moving one step towards stopping food poisoning and other
"This research opens up new areas for
investigations that may improve food treatment, develop new
therapies and vaccines to combat food poisoning in humans here on Earth, and
protect astronauts on orbit from infectious diseases," International
Space Station program scientist Julie Robinson said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 40,000
people in the United States per year suffer from Salmonella infections.
The NASA experiments launched to the ISS in September 2006 and March 2008,
with different goals designed for both research projects. Findings from
the 2006 research revealed a molecular "switch" that allows
Salmonella to respond to spaceflight and the harsh environment
of space in a manner that it doesn't need to while on Earth. Space
Salmonella was found to be more poisonous and harmful, as it was forced to
The 2008 Salmonella experiment confirmed researchers' findings in 2006, and
found its virulence alters depending on its growth environment.
Researchers were able to use both studies to help try and stop Salmonella's
strong virulence effect, which could lead to better treatments while
unlocking an important piece to the puzzle.
Researchers will continue to work to try and better understand Salmonella's
gene expression, with future Salmonella space research likely in the future.
Salmonella most recently made headlines when peanut butter manufacturers were
forced to issue an industry wide peanut butter recall that could cause $1
billion in lost production and sales for the industry.
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