US researchers studying the genetic makeup of hundreds of people in Bangladesh have tracked down key regions of the genome that could be responsible for making some people more susceptible to infection with the bacteria that cause cholera, publishing their results in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The genetic regions harbour genes involved in the immune system and regulation of fluid loss, among others.
The next step is to pin down the exact genes responsible for the differences in susceptibility and find out what they’re doing. Cholera is still widespread in many parts of the world, and can kill within hours. The scientists hope their discovery will pave the way for better vaccines and treatments, to help cut the death toll of cholera outbreaks in future.