Magazine article Science News

Italians Discover Mouse Model for Ulcers

Magazine article Science News

Italians Discover Mouse Model for Ulcers

Article excerpt

Bacteria known to cause ulcers in people now wreak gastric havoc in mice as well. This mouse model of persistent infection may help pave the way for development of a vaccine to protect humans from the microbe, which has also been linked to stomach cancer.

The corkscrew-shaped bacterium in question--Helicobacter pylori- - infects an estimated 50 percent of the world's population.

Researchers had previously infected monkeys and pigs with H. pylori, enabling scientists to study the disease. But these animals are large, expensive, and sometimes hard to handle. Now Rino Rappuoli of the Immunobiological Research Institute of Siena in Italy and his colleagues have created a cheap, easy-to-use rodent model of ulcers.

The Italian team first infected mice with a strain of H. pylori known as type I. Those mice soon resembled their suffering human counterparts, exhibiting ulcers and severe stomach inflammation.

"The beauty of this model is that we reproduce the full-blown disease," Rappuoli says. This finding fits with the observation that type I H. pylori predominates among humans with ulcers.

The team also reports that mice infected with the type II strain of H. pylori showed signs of mild gastric inflammation but did not develop ulcers.

The researchers then turned their attention to the development of a vaccine. They knew that type I H. pylori produces a protein called vacuolating cytotoxin (VacA) that, with long-term exposure, ulcerates the lining of the stomach. …

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