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Basic research is helping scientists to better understand how microbes (germs) spread by contaminated food or water cause disease in humans.

NIAID-supported researchers are studying the genes that help harmful bacteria to establish themselves in the human body and cause disease. For example, scientists have identified genes that appear to be involved in signaling certain immune system cells to cause inflammation and may contribute to the development of diarrhea.

Other NIAID-sponsored research focuses on understanding more about how bacteria grow and interact in cells. Scientists have discovered that some intestinal bacteria recognize when they are in a human and respond by activating a particular set of powerful genes that enable the bacteria to multiply in the body and cause disease.

NIAID-sponsored studies are also in progress to discover new ways to prevent infection and treat people suffering from progressing disease.

Last Updated August 19, 2010