Skip to main content

Vaccine for E. coli Diarrheal Diseases Discovered

  • Synopsis: Published: 2009-04-14 - Vaccine discovered for a strain of E. coli that kills 2 million to 3 million children each year in the developing world - Michigan State University.

Main Document

A Michigan State University researcher has developed a working vaccine for a strain of E. coli that kills 2 million to 3 million children each year in the developing world. Enterotoxigenic E. Coli, which is responsible for 60 percent to 70 percent of all E. coli diarrheal disease, also causes health problems for U.S. troops serving overseas and is responsible for what is commonly called traveler's diarrhea.

A Michigan State University researcher has developed a working vaccine for a strain of E. coli that kills 2 million to 3 million children each year in the developing world.

Enterotoxigenic E. Coli, which is responsible for 60 percent to 70 percent of all E. coli diarrheal disease, also causes health problems for U.S. troops serving overseas and is responsible for what is commonly called traveler's diarrhea.

A. Mahdi Saeed, professor of epidemiology and infectious disease in MSU's colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Human Medicine, has applied for a patent for his discovery and has made contact with pharmaceutical companies for commercial production. Negotiations with several firms are ongoing.

"This strain of E. coli is an international health challenge that has a huge impact on humanity," said Saeed, who has devoted four years to develop a working vaccine at MSU's National Food Safety and Toxicology Center. "By creating a vaccine, we can save untold lives. The implications are massive."

ETEC affects millions of adults and children across the globe, mainly in southern hemisphere countries throughout Africa and South America. It also poses a risk to U.S. troops serving in southern Asia and the Middle East.

Saeed's breakthrough was discovering a way to overcome the minuscule molecular size of one of the illness-inducing toxins produced by the E. coli bug. Since the toxin was so small, it did not prompt the body's defense system to develop immunity, allowing the same individual to repeatedly get sick, often with more severe health implications.

Saeed created a biological carrier to attach to the toxin that once introduced into the body induces a strong immune response. This was done by mapping the toxin's biology and structure during the design of the vaccine. Saeed's work was funded in part by a $510,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health.

After creating the carrier in a lab at MSU, Saeed and his team tested it on mice and found the biological activity of the toxin was enhanced by more than 40 percent, leading to its recognition by the body's immune system. After immunizing a group of 10 rabbits, the vaccine led to the production of the highest neutralizing antibody ever reported for this type of the toxin.

Saeed hopes that human clinical trials could begin late in the year.

There also are several other human health implications for the vaccine, besides providing immunity against most E. coli disease, according to Saeed. Many patients who undergo anesthesia during a medical procedure surgery suffer from post-operative paralytic ileus, or an inability to have a bowel movement. A small oral dosage of the vaccine could act as a laxative, which often aren't prescribed after a surgery for fear of side effects, Saeed said. A small dose also could help with urinary retention.

The vaccine will be available for animals as well, Saeed added. He pointed out the E. coli bug also is a major cause of sickness and death for newborn animals such as calves and piglets, which in the United States alone causes $300 million in loss of agricultural products each year.

Reference: Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.



Information from our Medical Research: News & Information section - (Full List).

Submit event details, disability news, and assistive technology products for publishing on Disabled World


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be. Also see information on blood group types and compatibility.



  1. Majority in Favor of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Screening
  2. When the Spinal Cord Takes Charge of Information Related to Movement
  3. Sign Language Comparative List of Astronomical Words
  4. Israeli President Honors Special Education Teachers




Citation



Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.

Disclaimer: Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.