Vaccine for a UTI? This Duke researcher is optimistic

A vaccine conceived at Duke University could be the weapon needed to fight off one of the most common bacterial infections in the world.

Video Transcript

ED CRUMP: If you're a woman, there's a very good chance you have had, or will have, a urinary tract infection. And the American Urological Association says UTIs are the second-most common bacterial infection in the US, behind strep throat.

Women tend to have one or two UTIs in their lifetime. But in a certain population, these UTIs become recurrent.

- Soman Abraham is a Duke professor and researcher who is on a team that's trying to end UTIs. Abraham says the problem is that when T cells repair the lining of the bladder during an infection, they crowd out other T cells that kill the bacteria.

So, some of the bacteria remains and can easily be triggered to start another infection. And the more infections you have, the more likely you are to have another.

SOMAN ABRAHAM: The bladder becomes more and more proficient at repair, and less and less proficient at clearing the bacterial reservoirs hiding in the lining.

- Another side effect-- the bladder lining gets thicker each time and not only holds less, but can't expand as much.

SOMAN ABRAHAM: The end result is the bladder capacity is tremendously reduced.

- And of course, that leads to much more frequent urination. But Abraham says the UTI vaccine he and his team have developed shows great promise in mice when the vaccine is introduced directly into the bladder.

SOMAN ABRAHAM: We were not only able to protect these mice from infection, but we also were able to eradicate whatever bacteria was typically hiding in the bladder lining.

- Of course, the vaccine has to be tested on humans, but all the components have already been cleared by the FDA. So, right now, Abraham is awaiting funding from the National Institutes of Health and is optimistic about bringing the vaccine to market in the next few years. Ed Crump, ABC 11, Eyewitness News.