Vaccine for UTIs: Medicine's Next Big Thing?

April 15, 2010 3:11:31 PM PDT
There's a vaccine for chicken pox, measles, mumps ? Now, doctors are working to create the very first vaccine to prevent urinary tract infections. It's a problem that affects one in five women, and men can experience the pain as well. The best way to tackle the problem may not be treating it but finding a way to prevent it altogether."It's like a knife-twisting pain. You're unable to even do the dishes."

Sharon DeBanardo knows the pain that comes with urinary tract infections, when bacteria invade the kidney, bladder and urinary tract.

"I constantly went every 10 days having a bladder infection and urinary tract infection," DeBarnardo said.

Fifty-three percent of women and 14 percent of men will get a UTI at least once -- that adds up to 1.3 million emergency room visits and 250,000 hospitalizations each year. The only treatment -- antibiotics.

"We're beginning to see increasing resistance to these antibiotics, and that's of particular concern," Harry Mobley, Ph.D., of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, said.

Dr. Mobley and his team are working on a vaccine to prevent the infections, a $2.5 billion per year problem in the U.S.

"A spray up the nose, a couple doses of this, would protect the bladder," Dr. Mobley said.

After five years of study in mice, researchers found three antigens that protect the mice against bacteria. The next step -- try out the vaccine in humans.

"It would be fabulous," DeBarnardo said of the vaccine.

More tests are needed before there's relief for people like DeBarnardo, but she's hopeful a simple spray could one day solve her painful problem.

Dr. Mobley says the vaccine is still three to five years away from hitting the market.


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