Scientists said Monday they had found a variant of a gene that confers a near five-fold protection against typhoid fever, which kills millions of people each year.
The discovery, that came from screening the genomes of hundreds of infected people and healthy controls in Vietnam and Nepal, may aid the development of better vaccines for typhoid and other bacterial diseases, said the authors of a study published in Nature Genetics.
“We found that carrying a particular form of the HLA-DRB1 gene provides natural resistance against typhoid fever,” study co-author Sarah Dunstan of the University of Melbourne said in a statement.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 21 million people are infected with typhoid fever every year, and an estimated 216,000 to 600,000 die.
It is caused by the Salmonella typhi or Paratyphi bacteria carried in contaminated food or water, said the study authors.
The gene they found protects against infection by recognising proteins from invading bacteria, thus stimulating an immune response.
Vaccines against S. typhi do exist, but are not always effective and are not suitable for young children — the group most at risk, according to the study authors.
“Consequently, these vaccines are not widely deployed in the populations with the greatest need,” they wrote.
“Notably, there is currently no licensed vaccine against enteric fever caused by S. Paratyphi pathovars, potentially constituting a huge problem as the incidence of S. Paratyphi A infection is increasing in many countries across Asia.”
The team said their discovery may lead to “improvements in the rational design of vaccines” for this and other bacterial infections.
Harvard researchers want less accurate tests for COVID-19
The aphorism "perfect is the enemy of good enough" has been played out to tragic effect in the US's inadequate testing for the coronavirus, according to researchers calling for quick tests that cost only about a dollar each, and which may not be as accurate but can be carried out several times a week by the whole population.
Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, has for weeks been pushing for what he calls "crappy" tests.
His idea is to move away from the current high-precision molecular tests, known as PCR tests, which are still scarce in large swathes of the country and which people often have to wait hours to get done, and then have to wait days -- or up to a week -- for the results.
WATCH: Seth Meyers goes after ‘sociopath’ Jared Kushner for America’s coronavirus failures
The host of "Late Night with Seth Meyers" on NBC harshly criticized senior White House advisor Jared Kushner for America's COVID-19 testing failures.
"More than 155,000 Americans have now died from the coronavirus pandemic," Meyers noted. "Cases are rising in more than 20 states. The U.S. now accounts for one-quarter of all coronavirus deaths in the world."
"And in some parts of the country, people are waiting as long as two-weeks to get their test results -- which is insane. The whole point of testing is to find cases, isolate them and trace their contacts. If it takes two weeks, it's pointless."
Virologist rips Deborah Birx: ‘She’s ignored the evidence’ with her ‘willful disregard for the science’
The White House coronavirus coordinator continues to lose support among the medical community, according to a new report in The Washington Post.
The report noted Dr. Deborah Birx has also been undermined by Trump, who attacked her on Twitter.
So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics. In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!