Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg and Karolinska Institute said they have mapped the spread of strains of Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) bacteria which are responsible for some 400 million cases of diarrhoea annually and nearly half a million deaths in the developing world.
"We can see that some of the dangerous strains of ETEC derive from a single bacterium that has divided and spread right around the world," Astrid von Mentzer, doctoral student at the Sahlgrenska Academy, said in a press release. "This may sound like bad news, but it actually means that the vaccine that we are developing on the basis of the most common types of bacteria will be of global benefit."
A vaccine could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in vulnerable countries.
It has undergone initial testing in healthy adults here in Sweden and larger trials are expected to take place in Bangladesh.
If the experiment is successful, a vaccine could be ready for the market in about 5 years, according to the researchers.