The majority of the microbes in humans are located in the intestines. The intestinal microbes form their own ecosystem. With metagenomics, it is possible to also study them better in their natural habitat, be it soil or the intestines. Anu Kantele, Professor of Infectious Diseases from the University of Helsinki, has been studying bacteria and diarrhoeal diseases for a long time. “I am interested in knowing how new bacteria that arrive in the intestines manage to settle into the ecosystem formed by the native intestinal bacteria and how antibiotic treatment affects this”, says Kantele.
Enterotoxigenic coliform bacteria (ETEC) are one of the most common causes of severe diarrhoeal disease. Anu Kantele and her research group participates the vaccine study which is being conducted in collaboration between the universities of Helsinki, Gothenburg and Johns Hopkins and the vaccine manufacturer, Scandinavian Biopharma AB. This so-called ETVAX vaccine has been estimated to provide protection against moderate to severe ETEC diarrhoea in 60–80% of those vaccinated. For tourists, diarrhoea is usually just an unpleasant experience, but it is life-threatening for the children in developing countries. That is why the developing an ETEC vaccine is also one the goals of the WHO. Read the article here