Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis researchers have reported about the development of a vaccine that stops urinary tract infections linked to catheters in mice.
The research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis showed that the experimental vaccine prevented urinary tract infections associated with catheters, the tubes used in hospitals and other care facilities to drain urine from a patient's bladder.
First author Ana Lidia Flores-Mireles said that catheter-associated urinary tract infections are very common and antibiotic resistance is increasing rapidly in the bacteria that cause these infections, so developing new treatments is a priority.
Co-author Michael Caparon said that the bacteria use long, thin hairs known as pili to anchor themselves to the fibrinogen, and then they can start to form biofilms, which are slimy coatings on the surface of the catheter composed of many bacteria.
Caparon added that the biofilms protect the bacteria from antibiotics and immune cells, further prevent them from being washed from the body by the flow of urine, and make it possible for bacteria to seed the lining of the bladder with infections.
Working with Enterococcus faecalis, a common cause of catheter-associated urinary tract infections, researchers showed that a protein on the end of the pili, EbpA, binds to fibrinogen and makes it possible for the bacteria to begin forming biofilms.
When researchers prevented the bacteria from making EbpA, they couldn't start infections.
Next, the researchers injected the mice with a vaccine containing EbpA, which caused the animal's immune systems to produce antibodies that blocked EbpA and stopped the infectious process.
The study is published online in Science Translational Medicine.