Scientific discovery could lead to vaccine for melioidosis


A scientific discovery may lead to production of a vaccine against melioidosis, deadly tropical disease that infects millions of people worldwide. The study appears in the journal “Science” on Friday. An international team of scientists showed how a toxin produced by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei (known as Whitmore’s bacillus), destroys human cells, preventing protein synthesis and inhibiting the growth of bacteria that causes melioidosis.

The research, led by the University of Sheffield, UK, can lead to the development of new treatments to combat disease-causing bacteria, abundant in Southeast Asia and northern Australia.

“Now that we know of the existence of this toxin, opens up opportunities for the development of new drugs able to block its effects,” said the professor at the University of Sheffield, Stuart Wilson, a member of the research team.

Scientists now want to investigate the potential applications of bacterial toxin to combat other diseases, like cancer, where it could be used in treatments aimed at preventing the proliferation of cancer cells.


The melioidosis is next to the HIV and tuberculosis, is one of the three leading causes of death from infectious diseases in some parts of Southeast Asia.

The disease can be difficult to diagnose and the mortality rate in the regions where the bacterium is found can reach 40%.

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