If this vaccine comes to market it will be a great alternative to antibiotics, which are becoming less effective as antibiotic resistance increases.
Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria. If not treated in time, bacteria in the urine can multiply until they reach the kidneys. Women are more affected than men and sometimes suffer recurrences: infections are more frequent and more difficult to treat. Even if the bacteria are eliminated from the bladder, populations persist elsewhere and often become resistant to the antibiotic used. As patients become resistant to antibiotics, they run out of options. To give them another option, the researchers in this new study are working to develop a vaccine against urinary tract infections. The results of this research have been published in ACS Nano.
What is the risk of a urinary tract infection?
“Patients lose their bladder to save their life because the bacteria cannot be killed by antibiotics or because of an extreme allergy to antibiotics, which is more common in the elderly population than people think,” according to one of the researchers. An untreated or poorly treated urinary tract infection can lead to sepsis, a potentially fatal condition.
A new vaccine model
Researchers have developed an innovative vaccine model, based on a whole-cell vaccine approach. Vaccines work by introducing a small amount of killed or weakened pathogens or some of their components into the body to protect us from infection. These introduced pathogens cause the immune system to produce antibodies against a particular disease. It is difficult to develop vaccines against pathogenic bacteria because they are much larger and more complex than viruses.
Vaccines usually contain only a small fraction of the bacteria and even when used whole, its lifespan is, often too short to elicit an immune response. In this experiment, the researchers used a Metal-Organic Framework (MOF) Encapsulated Whole-Cell Vaccine which allows an intact, dead pathogen to stay in tissue for a longer period of time, as if it were an infection, to trigger a comprehensive immune system response.
Efficacy validated in a mouse study
To test the serum, the researchers used a strain of Escherichia coli bacteria, responsible for about 80% of urinary tract infections. When we injected these mice with a lethal dose of the bacteria after vaccinating them, almost all of our animals survived, which is a much better performance than with traditional vaccine approaches,” said co-author Jeremiah Gassensmith. We have seen this result several times, and we are quite impressed with its reliability.” Before this vaccine is used in humans, its effects need to be confirmed in future studies.
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