One of the problems westerners face when travelling to developing nations is that no matter how hard one tries to avoid the water, you have a very good chance of contracting a serious case of the runs, known as traveler's diarrhea. If you don't drink the water, you forget about the ice cubes. If you avoid all ice cubes, you forget to be careful when brushing your teeth. If you use bottled drinks for everything from consumption to teeth brushing, you get it from the vegetables or fruit that were rinsed with local water. It's almost a losing battle and the price for defeat is spending far too much time on the toilet. If your lucky it won't truly strike until you get home, but that's wishful thinking for anyone travelling for more than a few days.
Apparently, Iomai Corp has a skin patch in development that may significantly reduce the chance of contracting the illness by actually delivering a trace of E.Coli bacteria beneath the skin where it readies your immune system to combat the bacteria you have yet to ingest. And that is very, very good news for anyone who'd rather not spend their time in foreign countries staring at the back of the bathroom door. Then again, this could seriously cut down the amount of reading one gets done on the road...
From the Seattle Times.
An experimental vaccine for traveler's diarrhea, administered through a skin patch, prevented many people from getting the disease when visiting Latin America, researchers said.
About 5 percent of people given Iomai Corp.'s vaccine developed traveler's diarrhea when visiting Mexico or Guatemala, compared with 21 percent who contracted the illness while taking a placebo, according to a study of 170 patients presented last week at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Chicago.
Iomai's vaccine is the only one in human testing against traveler's diarrhea, following years of failures, Gregory Glenn, Iomai's chief scientific officer, said. If the finding is confirmed in a larger clinical trial next year, the patch could be the first way to prevent a disorder that strikes 20 million people a year.
Iomai, based in Gaithersburg, Md., estimates the market for a successful vaccine is worth $750 million for travelers from the U.S., Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan.
The patch is designed to work by delivering a toxin from E. coli bacteria beneath the skin, where it stimulates immune system attack against the bug responsible for the illness, Glenn said.
The study, conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and the University of Texas in Houston, also found that if people on the vaccine became ill that they recovered sooner and had milder symptoms.
Participants wore a skin patch, the size of a nickel, for about 6 hours, took it off, then repeated the procedure two weeks later. No serious side effects were observed, although the patch caused some patients to develop a red spot that lasted several weeks.