Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are most common in women and can produce extreme pain during urination—they can also lead to other complications that, if not treated, can be fatal.
Such infections are generally treated with antibiotics.
Unfortunately, some women develop chronic infections, which means they experience UTIs several times a year.
In a study from Duke University, scientists have developed a vaccine against uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC), the type of bacteria that causes UTIs.
The team explained how they made their vaccine and its performance when tested in mice and rabbits.
In the current study, the researchers took a new approach to dealing with UTIs, avoiding antibiotics in general and instead creating a pill that targets only the bacteria behind the infection.
They tried a variety of approaches that involved manipulating drugs that were able to penetrate cellular mucosa.
The team developed a kind of peptide nanofiber that could not only penetrate the mucosa but could train the immune system to recognize and fight UPEC by exposing it to three peptides that reside on the surface of the bacteria.
The vaccine delivery method was found to elicit an immune response in the urinary tract due to similarities between the mucous membranes lining the urinary tract and the mouth.
The pills the team created were administered under the tongue and dissolved in saliva.
In testing their vaccine in mice and rabbits, the researchers found it to be as effective as traditional antibiotics and determined that its repeated use did not lead to gastrointestinal problems.
If the vaccine proves to be effective in humans, it would greatly reduce the number of antibiotics used to treat diseases overall, slowing the progression of bacterial resistance to available antibiotics.
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The study was conducted by Sean H. Kelly et al and published in the journal Science Advances.
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