Aberdeen researchers' battle to find new treatments for typhoid has been boosted after winning one of the most prestigious and competitive awards in Europe.
Dr Virtu Solano has secured a Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship which will allow her to contribute to the work of Dr. Stefania Spanò’s research group into the disease that kills more than 200,000 people every year.
More than 7,500 proposals were submitted for European Individual Fellowships this year with life sciences historically amongst one of the most competitive areas for funding.
The successful application is indicative of the high quality of the applicant, the project, the host institute and the supervisor.
What is Typhoid?
Typhoid fever is a life-threatening bacterial infection caused by Salmonella Typhi.
In some developing countries where poor sanitation is a concern, it continues to kill hundreds of thousands of people each year,
As with many diseases, antibiotic treatments have started to lose their effectivity and new alternative therapies need to be identified.
S. Typhi only infects humans and can live inside macrophages - cells of the immune system that act as humans’ first line of defence against infections. Normally macrophages react to kill infections but S. Typhi is able to evade their attack and go on to live and reproduce inside these cells.
Other animals’ macrophages are able to kill off S. Typhi.
Important research questions
- Why does S. Typhi only cause disease in humans?
- How and why are animals able to successfully fight S. Typhi?
Dr Solano says: “My research will be focused on the interplay of S. Typhi with macrophages from animals, specifically from mice. My main ambition is to understand how macrophages kill S. Typhi through the identification of the weapons that they use.
“My project will also complement alternative strategies that are currently going on in Dr. Spanò’s laboratory to address this specific question.
“Undoubtedly, answering this question will give us insights on what is going on in humans. The outcomes of our research will also lead to the identification of novel strategies to treat typhoid.”
In addition to the researcher salary, The Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship contributes to the research and training costs of the project.