The Shigella species bacteria are among the primary causes of dysentery and diarrhea in the poor countries where 99% of the deaths occur; they are transmitted by contact between people or by consuming contaminated food or water.
The bacteria are extremely dangerous because they propagate very rapidly and very rapidly develop resistance to antibiotics. Since immunity can be obtained naturally only after repeated infections and then only to the serotype which caused those infections, and since there are many varieties of Shigella in circulation in developing countries, it is clear that these bacteria cause dramatic epidemics.
Due to these methods of contagion and the mechanism of natural immunity, a vaccine which confers protection against the different Shigellaspecies is the best method of protection.
It is estimated that Shigella causes a number of deaths comparable to those caused by typhoid fevers, with about 69-70% of the episodes and deaths occurring in children under 5 years of age. This is the age group where the number of infections is greatest and where the subsequent chains of events include serious complications and sequelae: dehydration, reduced absorption of foods, malnutrition and then death.
The Fondazione Achille Sclavo aims to fight Shigella by accelerating the development and production of a vaccine based on new technologies which
- demonstrates effectiveness in children,
- already has a successfully tested development technology ,
- may be produced at reduced costs, in developing countries as well.
This is our second goal: develop the first vaccine against Shigella, to be brought to fruition for poor countries within the next ten years.