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Galveston County
A visit with Dr. Alfredo Torres
by Jim and Lynda Guidry
Monday, March 24, 2014

Guidry News Service recently visited with Dr. Alfredo Torres, lead author of a University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston study to discover vaccine candidates against pathogenic E. coli strains.  Listen (13:20)

“Our goal during the past two years was taking a couple of (items of) knowledge that we developed in the laboratory, understanding how the bacteria cause infection in the testing and translating to potential development of vaccine candidates,” Dr. Torres said.  “So the way we did it was to try to figure out how the bacteria really interacts with the intestinal cells, and then at that point we decide, ‘Well, can we identify the specific antigens found in this particular subset of category of E. coli that we are currently studying, that is known as 0157:H7?’”

Dr. Torres said the toxin, also known as STEC, is more serious than "travelers diarrhea and may lead to other serious complications, including hemolytic uremic syndrome, the most common cause of acute kidney failure in children. The bacterial strain is responsible for approximately 0.9 cases per 100,000 people in the United States, and leads to a significant number of hospitalizations and deaths, particularly among children and the elderly.

He said that several candidate vaccines have been identified that are being tested on animals.

“What we decided to do is to make a mouse a humanized mouse,” Dr. Torres said.  “What that means is, you can take a mouse that is deficient into the immune system and you can implant a human tissue.  In this case we are implanting a human intestine in these animals.”

He said the testing of animals will take about five years before human testing begins.

“Vaccine development takes a while,” he said.  “Some people spend their careers developing vaccines.”

Dr. Torres, who is founder and current coordinator of the Latin American Coalition for E-coli Research, also talked about his research en EspañolListen (1:59)

For the official UTMB news release on this research
Click Here

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