Martha Clokie from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom will develop a bacteriophage to destroy the diarrhea-causing bacterium Shigella, and study its effect on microbial populations in the gut. Shigella is a leading cause of death in children under five years old in the developing world but there are no effective vaccines due in part to the many different forms of the bacterium. Phage are viruses that can destroy specific bacteria, and are an alternative approach to vaccines. They will perform a longitudinal study in a mouse model of chronic Shigella infection using their collection of 46 lytic phage isolated from infants in Bangladesh that infect 200 clinical strains of Shigella. The effects of the phage will be evaluated both by sequencing to determine the quantities and types of bacteria in the gut, and by analyzing protein production in the bacteria and the mice, which will also reveal insight into the host immune response.
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