July 21, 2018

Shigella Vaccines In Clinical Trials

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have begun early-stage human clinical trials of two Shigella vaccines. Shigella is a family of bacteria that cause gastrointestinal illness.

vaccineIn the U.S., about 14,000 cases of Shigella infection, called shigellosis, are diagnosed each year but, as many cases go undiagnosed, health officials estimate the actual number is 20 times higher. Worldwide, about 90 million cases of shigellosis are diagnosed each year killing about 108,000 people most of whom are children under five. The disease is especially common in developing countries where hygiene is poor. Many strains are becoming resistant to antibiotics, the most common treatment for shigellosis.

Symptoms of shigellosis include diarrhea, which can be bloody, fever, and stomach cramps which usually develop 24 to 48 hours after exposure. In children under two, high fever can be associated with seizures.

“It seems that Shigella bacteria know our immune system better than we do,” said William Alexander, Ph.D., a program officer in NIAID’s Enteric and Hepatic Diseases Branch, Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, said in statement. “They’ve become very good at evading the human immune response and causing significant illness, so developing vaccines and better treatments is critical.”

The Phase I clinical trial of the vaccines is being funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.  The trial, which is being conducted at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, will evaluate the vaccines among 90 adults ages 18-45.

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