Collaborative Works Leads to Food Borne Illness Vaccine
of Article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/24/AR2009082400995.html
From the Partnership for Public Service
August 24, 2009; 7:55 AM
a quarter century of research, Navy scientist Patricia Guerry has made
ground-breaking discoveries that could lead to the first vaccine for a food
borne intestinal illness that affects hundreds of millions of people
worldwide each year.
effective vaccine could reduce the scope of an illness that causes severe
diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, headaches and joint pain. It also could
potentially save tens of thousands of young lives in developing countries
where the pathogen has proved deadly.
vaccine candidate against the pathogen Campylobacter jejuni, developed by
Guerry, her colleagues at the U.S. Naval Medical Research Center in Silver
Spring and Canadian scientist Mario Monteiro, successfully protected
against infection in monkeys during testing last year and is slated for
human clinical trials.
is the leading cause of global food borne illness. The pathogen is
responsible for more than two million cases in the United States and
several hundred million worldwide, each year. The infection can be
difficult to treat because of widespread antibiotic resistance.
breakthroughs have been innovative and had a major impact on biomedicine,"
Trevor Trust said, vice president of research for the pharmaceutical
Campylobacter infection was discovered in the late 1970s, but many
researchers found it too difficult to understand and stopped studying it
because the pathogen was impervious to genetic manipulation.
a molecular microbiologist, began her work in the 1980s and over time
created new research tools that allowed her to identify the pathogen's
unique genetic, biochemical and structural features. This led to the
development of a vaccine that neutralizes the bacteria's ability to attach
to the intestinal lining.
to her work, scientists did not believe that bacteria could produce sugars
within proteins. Guerry discovered that Campylobacter had sugar on its
surface, which is what made it so difficult to combat but provided the
basis for the vaccine.
Campylobacter was first discovered, nobody really knew anything about it.
After I began researching it, the Defense Department mandated that I figure
it out for our troops," Guerry said.
Naval Medical Research Center's stated mission is to enhance the health,
safety, performance and deployment readiness of Navy and Marine Corps
personnel. The vaccine could have major implications in alleviating
suffering for troops overseas, who are particularly vulnerable to food
solving the problem for the military, she is also helping Third World
nations as Campylobacter is a leading cause of food borne illness in
children in underdeveloped countries," Capt. Christopher Daniel, the
commanding officer of Guerry's lab at the Naval Medical Research Center,
O'Brien, president of the American Society for Microbiology, called Guerry
"the number one researcher on Campylobacter in the United States, if
not the world."
has an analytical mind. When she makes a discovery, she will re-test and go
to great lengths to prove her discovery is correct," O'Brien said.
"Second, she's ethical. She has extreme concerns about the vaccine
having an adverse reaction in humans and has garnered the respect of her
colleagues for the measure she takes to assure her work is done only to
make lives better."
article was jointly prepared by the Partnership for Public Service, a group
seeking to enhance the performance of the federal government, and
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