Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Humans and viruses and cholera

Researchers from Tufts Univeristy School of Medicine have discovered a way to prevent cholera infection. A study involving several animal models tested the efficacy of an oral cocktail of 3 cholera-killing bacteriophages in preventing cholera infection if administers 3-24 hours in advance of cholera injection. Results indicate that the treatment was most effective in preventing gastrointestinal symptoms of cholera when administered 3 to 12 hours pre-infection.

The research team identified these 3 bacteriophages over the course of a decade. They decided to use 3 to reduce the likelihood of the cocktail becoming ineffective due to bacteria resistance. The idea to pursue this possible treatment stemmed from the fact that phage-therapy is really common and regarded as safe in Eastern Europe.

These researchers are currently looking at options to adapt their treatment to human use in order to test the effectiveness and safety profile in humans. It is believed that a short-acting preventive treatment for cholera could be highly valuable in outbreaks of cholera in countries where cholera vaccination and clean water for oral rehydration therapy is hard to come by.

However, I’m not convinced that this treatment will make a large impact on the communities that need it most. After all, if cholera vaccination campaigns are too difficult to complete, I’m not sure that the distribution of this treatment on such a short-term notice will be possible either.

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