Research could solve campylobacter problem

Experts at the University of Nottingham have found that campylobacter uses a particular set of sugar-coated bacterial molecules to colonise and disperse – a discovery that might prevent the spread of gastroenteritis.

Professor Dlawer Ala’Aldeen and Dr Jafar Mahdavi from the School of Life Science identified exact bacterial molecules that facilitate this host-bacterial cell binding and the sugar-coated carbohydrates that are used to attract the bacteria.

The campylobacter jejuni sets up home in chicken intestines. It contaminates raw meat and is the commonest cause of food poisoning. Attempts to prevent infection are hampered by a poor understanding of the complex interactions between the host and the pathogen.

This research, funded by the Medical Research Council, and published in Royal Society Journal Open Biology, could lead to a better understanding of the host-bacterial interaction and the prevention and treatment of campylobacter jejuni infections.

The discovery should help pave the way for the development of new products that can block the binding and thereby prevent chicken or human colonisation, or reduce the burden of raw meat contamination in retail markets.

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