A New Vaccine on the Anvil for E. Coli Poisoning

by VR Sreeraman on Aug 20 2007 6:08 PM

Scottish scientists are developing a new vaccine for E coli poisoning.

The vaccine, which will be available for trials in another two years, is aimed at preventing cattle from shedding E coli 0157 bacteria that contaminates food products and can even lead to death.

The three-year research conducted by scientists from Edinburgh University, the Moredun Research Institute, the Scottish Agricultural College and Novartis Animal Vaccines, is expected to end next year.

"The aim is to develop and test potential vaccination strategies to reduce colonisation [of E coli 0157] in cattle and therefore the onward risk to human health,’ Scotsman quoted Professor David Smith, who heads the research at the Moredun institute, near Penicuik, Midlothian, as saying.

"Work is progressing and there are some promising indications," he added.

In 2003, the same team made a breakthrough when they found that most of the bacteria inhabit only the last few centimetres of the gastrointestinal tract in cattle.

"Scotland appears to get more than its fair share of E coli 0157 poisoning so if a risk assessment concludes that a vaccine would help to reduce that then I would support it. This seems to be an innovation worth pursuing," Labour MSP Andy Kerr, the former Scottish health minister, said.