Cell biologist and Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences Dr. Ken Teter says the key to preventing infectious diseases like cholera is by discovering how bacterial toxins enter into the body – and slamming the door on those entranceways. He was recently awarded a $145,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the transmission of cholera, an acute infection of the intestine spread by contaminated water and food that kills over 100,000 annually.
“If we understand how toxins enter into the host (body), we can develop therapies to block entry to the host,” said Dr. Teter. His work looks at how cholera and similar toxins like those produced by E. coli interact on a molecular level with the human body.
The grant will help Dr. Teter and his lab what path or “door” cholera needs to enter the body. Understanding the “door” means being able to develop methods to be able to close it to prevent infection. “If we can prevent the toxins entering our cells, they become non-toxic and won’t affect us,” he said. The grant will allow Dr. Teter to hire additional Ph.D. students to work on the research over the next two years of funding.
Dr. Teter has been with UCF since 2004 and became interested in bacterial pathogens during his post-doctoral work in Denver where he began researching the cell biology of the cholera toxin
“I’m lucky and relieved when funding comes in,“ Dr. Teter said of the NIH grant “because there are so many qualified projects that don’t get funded.”
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