Jackson Lab. researchers announce first mouse model for typhoid fever research

By Ramona du Houx - August 17th, 2010 · 

 Researchers including Jackson Laboratory Professor Leonard Shultz have announced the first mouse model for typhoid fever. The model will allow researchers to study typhoid fever and to develop new treatments and vaccines to battle this serious threat to health in the developing world.

Each year the life-threatening illness strikes more than 21 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Most patients have limited access to antibiotics, and currently available vaccines for typhoid prevention offer only limited (60-80 percent) effectiveness.

Salmonella typhi, the bacterium that causes the disease, lives only in humans (in the bloodstream and intestinal tract). The lack of animal models for typhoid fever has been a significant barrier to developing new treatments and vaccines.

The NSG mouse known by the technical name (NOD)-scid IL2rg null, which was developed by Jackson’s Shultz, has a suppressed immune system. But because it also carries human hematopoietic stem cells (the cells that generate all the different kinds of blood cell types throughout a person’s lifespan), it supports the development of human cell populations that can be infected with Salmonella typhi. These mice also develop a human immune system and mount a human-like physiological response to pathogens such as HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Shultz and colleagues at the University of Washington School of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Vaccine Research Institute of San Diego announced the successful replication of the Salmonella typhi bacterium in the mouse, in a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The test was conducted in the laboratory of Dr. Ferric C. Feng of the University of Washington, the lead author of the paper.

The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution based in Bar Harbor, Maine. Its mission is to discover the genetic basis for preventing, treating and curing human diseases, and to enable research and education for the global biomedical community.