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        Scientists develop

        promising vaccine method

        against recurrent UTI

              esearchers at The
              University of Texas at
       RDallas are investigating
        the use of whole-cell vaccines
        to fight urinary tract infection
        (UTI), part of an effort to tackle
        the increasingly serious issue of
        antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

        Dr. Nicole De Nisco, assistant
        professor of biological sciences,
        and Dr. Jeremiah Gassensmith,
        associate professor of chemistry
        and biochemistry, recently
        demonstrated the use of metal-
        organic frameworks (MOFs) to
        encapsulate and inactivate whole
        bacterial cells to create a “depot”
        that allows the vaccines to last
        longer in the body.
                                                  Dr. Nicole De Nisco conducts research aimed at understanding the basis for
        The resulting study, published            recurring urinary tract infections in postmenopausal women. In her lab, students
        online Sept. 21 in the                    monitor the growth of various bacteria. Image source:
        American Chemical Society’s
        journal ACS Nano, showed             worldwide, accounting for $6        De Nisco’s continuing exploration
        that in mice this method             billion in medical expenditures.    of how UTIs progress and recur
        produced substantially               If not successfully treated, a UTI   in older women is funded by a
        enhanced antibody production         can lead to sepsis, which can       recent five-year, $1.3 million grant
        and significantly higher             be fatal.                           (R01DK131267) from the National
        survival rates compared to                                               Institutes of Health.
        standard whole-cell vaccine          Recurrent UTI, De Nisco said, is
        preparation methods.                 primarily regarded as a women’s     De Nisco’s collaboration with
                                             health issue, and although          Gassensmith began in late 2018
        “Vaccination as a therapeutic route   it’s common -- especially in       after she gave a presentation on the
        for recurrent UTIs is being explored   postmenopausal women -- it’s      microbiology of UTI to a campus
        because antibiotics aren’t working   something many women don’t          safety protocol committee.
        anymore,” De Nisco said. “Patients   talk about a lot.
        are losing their bladders to save                                        “Afterward, we talked about my
        their lives because the bacteria     “Every subsequent infection         research group’s idea of creating
        cannot be killed by antibiotics or   becomes more difficult to treat,”   better whole-cell vaccines by
        because of an extreme allergy to     De Nisco said. “Even if you clear   preserving antigens in this slow-
        antibiotics, which is more common    the bacteria from the bladder,      release depot,” Gassensmith said.
        in the older population than people   populations persist elsewhere      “At the time, we had no real models
        may realize.”                        and usually become resistant        to test it with, and I thought UTI
                                             to the antibiotic used. When        presented a very good opportunity.”
        The American Urological              patients accumulate antibiotic
        Association estimates that           resistances, they’re eventually                               10
        150 million UTIs occur yearly        going to run out of options.”

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