UTI Vaccine in Development Shows Promise

Damian McNamara

March 02, 2021

Although it's still in development, a vaccine against current and future urinary tract infections could also wipe out other problems, such as women being given the wrong antibiotic or given antibiotics for too long, a pair of newly released studies say.

For the first time, researchers at Duke University Medical Center designed a vaccine that could more completely treat urinary tract infections and prevent future ones. Although the experiments so far are only in mice, they hold promise for people who have these bothersome and sometimes painful infections over and over.

UTIs mostly affect women and are very common. Experts estimate about half of women will have at least one UTI during their lifetimes.

This is not the first vaccine developed against UTIs. Previous attempts did not always work completely ― some bacteria would remain in the bladder, causing the UTI to come back over and over again.

What's different this time is this vaccine goes right to the source ― injected right into the bladder of the mice. This way, the "bad" bacteria triggering UTIs have nowhere to hide and get eliminated completely, the March 1 report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows.

Appropriate Antibiotics

This potential solution comes at a time when another study shows many women do not receive the most appropriate antibiotic or are prescribed treatment longer than needed for an uncomplicated UTI.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found almost half of women they studied did not get the most appropriate antibiotic to treat their UTI. Even more women ― about three-quarters ― were prescribed antibiotics longer than required to treat their infection. The results were published Feb. 24 in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

Interestingly, women in rural settings were more likely than those in urban areas to get improper antibiotic prescriptions.

The dangers of overprescribing antibiotics for UTIs and other infections are well-known. They include antibiotic resistance, where bacteria that survive the treatment develop defenses that make them less susceptible to antibiotics over time. Treatment failure and side effects are also risks.

Sources

ScienceDaily: "Goodbye UTIs: Scientists develop vaccine strategy for urinary tract infections."

Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology: "Rural–urban differences in antibiotic prescribing for uncomplicated urinary tract infection."

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