Advance made in pursuit of vaccine for E. coli strains

Unusual capabilities of antibodies may improve vaccine strategies
Unusual capabilities of antibodies may improve vaccine strategies | Courtesy of sciencedaily.com
Researchers have discovered an antibody with unusual characteristics that may inspire improvements for scientists to create more effective vaccines for pathogens, including urinary-tract infecting E. coli strains.

The antibody, which may inhibit bacteria from bonding to human cell surfaces, may stop E. coli bacteria cells from attaching to human cells. If E. coli cannot bond to human cells, then the bacteria cannot cause an infection.

E. coli is particularly interesting to researchers because it causes approximately 12 percent of urinary tract infections in men and half of urinary tract infections in women. The E. coli strains cause up to 90 percent of these urinary tract infections by irritating the urinary tract.

While its hairlike structures, known as fimbriae, have pocket-shaped proteins that attach to sugarlike molecules on human cells, the new antibody may stop this adhesion, called FimH, and stop E. coli from causing urinary tract infections. To begin an infection, E. coli implements FimH along the cells that compose the bladder wall and urinary tract.

Previously, one vaccine suggested that it might prevent urinary tract infections during studies involving animals, but human trials were unsuccessful. Scientists anticipate using this new antibody to treat not only E. coli infections but also other illnesses.

Further details are available in Thursday's issue of the journal PLOS Pathogens.