A vaccine against urinary tract infections was developed in mice by US researchers at Duke University in North Carolina. Most UTIs are caused by pathogenic strains of the common Escherichia coli bacteria found in the colon and feces.
Mice with long-term protection against urinary tract infections
To precisely target these strains, the researchers first identified the proteins on their surface responsible for their adhesion to urinary tract cells. They then designed nanofibers carrying fragments of these proteins to make the bouquet easily recognizable by the immune system. The use of these nanofibers in the form of tablets also made it possible to immunize animals in an original way: by placing them under the tongue of mice, they induced the production of antibodies directed against bacterial proteins in the blood, as well as in the urinary tract.
A particularly important benefit for pregnant women
As a result, most of the immunized mice were reliably protected from urinary tract infections. This new way of vaccination has several advantages, the researchers highlight in the journal Science Advances. First, it is easy to administer because this vaccine does not need to be stored in a cool place, unlike conventional products. Moreover, it can be taken without medical personnel. Another benefit, if these good results are confirmed in humans, is that this vaccination avoids the use of antibiotics to prevent or treat urinary tract infections, sparing the gut microbiota.
The benefit will be especially significant for pregnant women, who are more likely to be exposed to urinary tract infections, as it will reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and allow a better gut microbiota to be passed on to the baby. Finally, vaccination against most urinary tract infections would greatly reduce the cost of treatment, as urinary tract infections are a particularly common disease in the population.