Researchers observed successful results among the first young children tested with the oral vaccine, which prevents diarrhea caused by E. coli

By Benjamin VanHoose
November 22, 2019 04:53 PM

A first-of-its-kind vaccine that aims to combat bacterial diarrhea illnesses just got one step closer to becoming widely available.

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden conducted the first tests of the treatment in children ages 6 months to 5 years old, observing promising findings that indicate a strengthened immune system.

The results, published earlier this week in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases, pertained to a pool of 430 infants and toddlers who were given the oral vaccine, given either on its own or with an additional adjuvant. Similar to previous tests among adults, the outcomes were predominantly successful.

“No solicited adverse events occurred that were greater than moderate in severity, and most were mild,” the study’s authors wrote. “The most common solicited event was vomiting … which appeared related to dose and age.”

Currently named ETVAX, the treatment aims to prevent enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) diarrhea, which is a common illness among citizens of developing countries and those who travel there.

The sickness is common among children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is passed through food and water contaminated with feces. ETEC infections typically come with symptoms ranging from chills and vomiting to cramps and fever.

With no vaccine currently on the market, doctors typically prescribe antibiotics to infected patients, otherwise allowing the illness to run its course in adults with strong immune systems, typically fading after three weeks.

Do to growing resistance to antibiotics, the CDC doesn’t recommend using them to prevent ETEC infections. Furthermore, the experts urge pregnant women and anyone with weakened immune systems to consult a doctor before traveling to high-risk areas.

The study was partially funded by PATH via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which, according to its website, works to end diarrheal disease deaths among young children by 2030.

“We believe that all children — no matter where they live — should not suffer or die from enteric (gastrointestinal) and diarrheal infections,” the group’s mission statement reads.

More studies are slated to continue to test the vaccine’s efficacy, including one early next year that will focus on Finnish travelers visiting Africa, according to Medical Xpress.