A new vaccine has been developed by a Michigan University researcher to combat one of the deadliest strains of E. coli bacteria that kills over two to three million children every year.
Enterotoxigenic E. Coli, (ETEC) is responsible for 60 percent to 70 percent of all E. coli diarrheal disease.
Lead researcher A. Mahdi Saeed, professor of epidemiology and infectious disease in MSU's colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Human Medicine has discovered a way to overcome the miniscule molecular size of one of the illness-inducing toxins produced by the E. coli bug.
Since the toxin was so small, it did not prompt the body's defence system to develop immunity, allowing the same individual to repeatedly get sick, often with more severe health implications.
"This strain of E. coli is an international health challenge that has a huge impact on humanity," said Saeed.
"By creating a vaccine, we can save untold lives. The implications are massive," he added.
Saeed created a biological carrier to attach to the toxin that once introduced into the body induces a strong immune response.
This was done by mapping the toxin's biology and structure while developing the vaccine.
During the study, the researchers tested the vaccine 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.
For further analysis, they immunized a group of 10 rabbits and the vaccine led to the production of the highest neutralizing antibody ever reported for this type of the toxin.
Saeed hopes that human clinical trials could begin late in the year.