Magazine article Science News

Vaccine Prevents Urinary-Tract Infections. (Science News of the Week)

Magazine article Science News

Vaccine Prevents Urinary-Tract Infections. (Science News of the Week)

Article excerpt

Infections of the urinary tract that plague many young women may someday be avoidable, researchers report. An experimental vaccine designed to repel 10 common bacteria that cause these problems, also known as bladder infections, has cleared a key hurdle by proving safe and effective in a group of women.

By packaging heat-inactivated versions of the 10 bacteria into a vaginal suppository, scientists developed a vaccine that could not only spare women these recurring irritations but also prevent the scarring and other damage they can cause to the kidneys. The bacterial roster includes six strains of Escherichia coli and four other species.

First developed in an injectable form by the Swiss firm Solco, the experimental vaccine is now being produced as a suppository by Cincinnati-based Protein Express. To test its safety and potential effectiveness, immunologist Walter J. Hopkins and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison identified 54 women who had had at least 3 urinary-tract infections--and as many as 20--in the previous year.

The researchers randomly assigned one-third of the women to receive six inert suppositories over 14 weeks. Another third of the group was given the same number of vaccine suppositories, while the remaining women received first three vaccine suppositories and then three placebo suppositories.

Only 8 of the 18 women getting the full course of vaccine had any urinary-tract infection during the 6-month study, compared with 16 of 18 women in the placebo group. …

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