Salmonella in space

May 21, 2009


Salmonella is something we are continually battling here on earth, and there is no currently available vaccine to control it. Now, a series of experiments conducted aboard the International Space Station may soon lead to a vaccine against food poisoning from that particular bacteria.

It is bacteria brought back by the shuttle Discovery crew last month that researchers have been examining, because it seems that previous studies showed salmonella can become more virulent in weightlessness; and that its virulence can be controlled so that it can be switched on and off. NASA has been concerned that because being in space weakens the immune system, that astronauts might be more susceptible to food poisoning.

Bizarrely, or at least to me, the environment inside the intestines is similar to weightlessness and this latest research shows that microgravity actually changes salmonella itself and this gives researchers hope that this could help us tackle the problem back here on Earth.


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