The discovery of a potential target for a cholera vaccine

The results could help prevent an estimated 3 million cases and 95,000 deaths that occur each year from cholera

Boston – The findings of a team led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), published in the online journal mBio, may help scientists develop a more effective vaccine for cholera, a bacterial disease that causes severe diarrhea, dehydration and usually spreads through pollutants. the toilet.

The bacteria that cause cholera are called Vibrio cholerae, Settles in the intestine after ingestion. There, it secretes a toxin that causes the intestinal cells to excrete massive amounts of fluid, which ultimately leads to death from dehydration and shock if left untreated. Disease is a big problem in many poor areas of the world.

Interestingly, immune responses to the toxin do not protect against cholera, but previous research led by researcher Edward Ryan, MD, Director of Global Infectious Diseases at MGH, has shown the presence of associated antibodies. Vibrio choleraeSugar coating – labeled O’s polysaccharide (OSP) – provides protection.

The big question is: How do you protect these antibodies? “The answer will help develop better vaccines,” says Ryan, who is also a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. He notes that current cholera vaccines are not very protective of young children, who bear much of the global burden of cholera, and urges relatively short-term protection for recipients.

To verify this, Ryan and his colleagues analyzed antibodies extracted from humans who survived cholera. The experiments showed the mass of the antibodies Vibrio cholerae Kinetics of bacteria. “Vibrio cholerae They are very mobile, and swimming is critical to their ability to cause disease, “explains Ryan.” Interestingly, the tail-like whip in Vibrio cholerae That propels the swim covered with sugar OSP. “More detailed analyzes showed human OSP-bound antibodies to inhibit the ability of Vibrio cholerae You swim and cause illness.

“Our results support a unique mechanism of protection against human pathogens. We are not aware of previous work demonstrating a direct antimicrobial effect of human antibodies,” says Ryan.


About Massachusetts General Hospital

Massachusetts General Hospital, founded in 1811, is the largest teaching hospital at Harvard Medical School. The Mass General Research Institute conducts the nation’s largest hospital-based research program, with annual searches of more than $ 1 billion and engaging over 9,500 researchers working in more than 30 institutes, centers and departments. In August 2020, Mass General was ranked sixth on US News & World Report’s list of “America’s Best Hospitals.”

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