April 15, 2009

Vaccine for E. coli developed

A U.S. researcher has developed a working vaccine for a strain of E. coli that kills 2 million to 3 million children annually in the developing world.

Mahdi Saeed of Michigan State University's colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Human Medicine said that enterotoxigenic E. Coli is responsible for 60 percent to 70 percent of all E. coli diarrheal disease, also causes health problems for U.S. troops serving overseas and is responsible for what is commonly called traveler's diarrhea.

This strain of E. coli is an international health challenge that has a huge impact on humanity, Saeed said in a statement. By creating a vaccine, we can save untold lives. The implications are massive.

Saeed discovered a way to overcome the minuscule molecular size of one of the illness-inducing toxins produced by the E. coli bug. Because the toxin was so small, it did not prompt the body's defense system to develop immunity, allowing the same individual to repeatedly get sick.

After creating the carrier in a laboratory, Saeed and the team tested it on mice and found the biological activity of the toxin was enhanced by more than 40 percent, leading to its recognition by the body's immune system.

The researchers immunized a group of 10 rabbits. The vaccine led to the production of the highest neutralizing antibody ever reported for this type of the toxin, Saeed said.