The National Institutes of Health has awarded $3.3 million to a team at Indiana University for researching a new solution to the problem of antibiotic resistance, a significant and growing health concern in recent years. Each year in the U.S., Salmonella alone sickens an estimated 1.2 million people while hospitalizing 19,000 and killing 380, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Antibiotic-resistant varieties of the bacteria are being reported more often in coverage of Salmonella outbreaks, and antibiotic-resistant traits have developed in other high-profile foodborne bacteria such as E. coli. Infections of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria cannot be treated with certain types of antimicrobial drugs — sometimes the drug most commonly used to treat them. More concerning, some antibiotic-resistant varieties of Salmonella have proven to be more virulent than conventional Salmonella, causing double the number of hospitalizations typically seen in Salmonella outbreaks. The team of chemists and biologists at Indiana University plans to develop a “chemical tagging method” to better understand how bacteria build their cell wall, according to the university. They have discovered a microscopic fluorescent chemical probe that pinpoints where bacterial cells build their peptidoglycan, which provides the shape and strength of cell walls. The goal is to see how the bacterial cell wall is built in the hope that they can use that information to somehow interfere with the process. The team plans to first study three commonly studied bacteria, E. coli, Bacillus subtilis and Streptococcus pneumoniae.