Global health R&D at work in South Dakota
Researchers at South Dakota State University are part of a consortium of global organizations working to develop a vaccine against enterotoxigenic E. coli, or ETEC, a deadly diarrheal disease. The scientists altered the toxins produced by a form of E. coli and genetically fused this non-poisonous "toxoid" to a protein known to evoke an immune response. The resulting "fusion protein" could be used to develop a vaccine. Besides causing diarrheal illness in farm animals, ETEC is a main source of bacterial-induced diarrhea in low-income countries and is the chief cause of traveler's diarrhea. Unsafe water sources and lack of adequate sanitation increase the risk of contracting ETEC. The World Health Organization estimates that ETEC causes approximately 210 million cases of illness in humans and 380,000 deaths each year, most of whom are young children.