FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

Diarrhea bacteria genome decoded; vaccine in the works

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska Academy have discovered the genetic composition of the bacteria that cause diarrhea and said they now can create a vaccine.

A recent study published in Nature Genetics explains how these researchers used comprehensive DNA analysis to determine Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) bacteria's genetic composition. These findings also make it possible to map how the bacteria spread.

ETEC causes 400 million cases of diarrhea each year and 400,000 deaths in less-developed countries globally. Children under 5 years old are most affected. The ETEC bacteria also cause diarrhea in nearly 50 percent of visitors to those affected countries.

"We can see that some of the dangerous strains of ETEC derive from a single bacterium that has divided and spread around the world,"  Astrid von Mentzer, a doctoral student at the Sahlgrenska Academy, said. "This may sound like bad news, but it actually means the vaccine that we are developing on the basis of the most common types of bacteria will be of global benefit."

Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy continue to work with colleagues from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom, Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, and universities in Japan, Germany and the United States.

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