Heading off a deadly superbug

Bacteria Klebsiella

Hypervirulent strains of the bacteria Klebsiella caused tens of thousands of infections in China, Taiwan and South Korea last year, and the bacteria are spreading around the world. About half of people infected with hypervirulent, drug-resistant Klebsiella die.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the biotech startup VaxNewMo have produced and tested, in mice, a vaccine that protects against the superbug, and they’ve done so by genetically manipulating a harmless form of E. coli.

The prototype vaccine may offer a way to protect people against the growing threat of a lethal infection that is hard to prevent and treat.

The goal is to get a vaccine ready for human use before the hypervirulent strains start causing disease in even larger numbers of people in expanding geographic areas.

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