Bacterial infections can be pretty nasty. For instance, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi causes typhoid fever in more than 22 million people each year, leading to at least 200,000 deaths.
The pathogenicity, transmission and evolution of microbial infections like S. enterica depend on the dynamics of the pathogen within the host, for instance: the time from cell infection to cell death, how fast the pathogen spreads from cell to cell, its probability of survival between cells, and so on.
Despite the potential importance of these intra-cellular and inter-cellular dynamics, there have been few if any theoretical models considering bacterial dynamics within hosts.
Up to now, that is. In the November 2006 issue of PLoS Biology, a team of investigators, including CIDD's Bryan Grenfell, has published a simple yet powerful theoretical framework modeling how bacteria proliferate within and among host cells. The model's predictions for S. enterica infections in mice match observed data. Furthermore, the researchers demonstrate how the model can be used to explore questions of applied importance, such as the likely impact of combining different kinds of antibiotic in multiple-drug therapy.
Written By: Sam P. Brown, Stephen J. Cornell, Mark Sheppard, Andrew J. Grant, Duncan J. Maskell, Bryan T. Grenfell, & Pietro Mastroeni
Journal: 4(11): e349
Journal Reference: 4(11): e349
Paper Id: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0040349