U.S. scientists discover an effective method of vaccinating mice against infection by the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis, with the details of their study published in October issues of the journal nature Immunology.
Egil Lien and his colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical School have manipulated the bacterial coat of bacteria such as Y. pestis, which is comprised of protein and fatty sugars in the development of an effective vaccine method.
Most bacterial coats normally stimulate mammalian immune cells well, whereas some such as those of Y. pestis, does not stimulate an immune response causing them to evade or suppress the innate immune response of the host.
Lien and his colleagues developed a Y. pestis strain with a coat that stimulates immune cells in mice, which showed that mice could survive infection with the engineered strain. The surviving mice also appear to be protected from subsequent infection with normal, otherwise deadly, Y. pestis.
These results have suggested that immune stealth is probably critical for normal Y. pestis to cause serious infection.