A team led by Liang Shi, staff scientist at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has turned up a suspect protein that may hold the key to controlling salmonella outbreaks, reports the PNNL Newsroom.

The discovery of the protein, dubbed STM3117, allowed the researchers to subsequently crippled the microbe’s ability to multiply inside macrophages.

Drug and vaccine designers armed with this mouse-model information can target chemicals or immune responses that disrupt peptidoglycan synthesis and other processes linked to Salmonella’s colonization of macrophages in humans. A quick identification of these proteins could also help physicians assess the virulence of a given strain.

The work was funded by PNNL and the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and much of the work was performed at the PNNL-based W.R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory.