E.coli vaccine becoming more of a possibility

Novartis scientists say they are getting closer to creating a universal E.coli vaccine.

"We know that we have the potential there, and this could mean that once you get vaccinated you could even be covered against all the different diseases that E.coli can cause," MariaGrazia Pizza, who worked on the study, told Reuters.

Creating a universal vaccine to combat the bacteria strain -- which can cause diarrhea, respiratory infections, urine infections, meningitis in newborns and many other serious health threats -- has proven difficult, Pizza told Reuters, because the genetic structure of the different bacteria strains is widely varied.

Pizza said Novartis scientists gene mapped the bacterium to circumvent those concerns. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Lab tests conducted on mice showed that nine of several hundred antigens scientists tested protected the mice from infection, Reuters reports. The scientists wrote in their study that a combination of some of the antigens could potentially create a broad E.coli vaccine.

"The development of such a vaccine will be very challenging for the company, but if we were successful at the end, obviously it would be a big thing," Pizza told Reuters.