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Mice Engrafted With Human Immune Cells May Provide Clues to Better Prevention and Treatment of Typhoid Fever

Better treatments and prevention for typhoid fever may emerge from a laboratory model that has just been developed for the disease. The model is based on transplanting human immune stem cells from umbilical cord blood into mice that are susceptible to infections.

The transplanted cells live alongside the mouse's own immune system. Although mice are normally resistant to the dangerous strain of Salmonella that causes typhoid fever, the bacteria are able to reproduce in the mice that have received transplanted human cells.

Because typhoid fever affects only humans, progress in creating more effective vaccines and medications has been limited, notes Dr. Ferric C. Fang, professor of laboratory medicine and microbiology at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle and the senior scientist on the project. The new model enables scientists to study innovative approaches against the disease in a living system, before testing them on people.

The "humanized" mouse model for studying Salmonella Typhi infections was reported recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The lead author of the paper is Stephen J. Libby, research associate professor of laboratory medicine.

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 16,000,000 new cases of typhoid fever occur annually. More than 600,000 people die each year from the disease, which is transmitted through contaminated food or water. Making the situation worse, multi-drug resistant strains have emerged. Researchers are looking for new drugs to replace those that are no longer effective.

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