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India's first vaccine to treat bloody diarrhoea

Developing a vaccine against Shigella is also one of the priorities outlined by the World Health Organisation.

This photomicrograph revealed stool exudates in a patient with shigellosis, which is also known as “Shigella dysentery”, or “Bacterial dysentery”. Usually, those who are infected with Shigella develop diarrhea, which is often bloody, fever, and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacterium. Shigellosis usually resolves in 5 to 7 days. Wiki Commons.

Indian Council of Medical Research on Tuesday transferred the first indigenous vaccine against Shigella to MSD Wellcome Trust Hilleman Laboratories Pvt Ltd for commercialising the home-grown product after clinical trials.

Once commercialised, the vaccine developed by the National Institute for Cholera and Enteric Diseases, Kolkata (one of the ICMR laboratories) may turn out to be an effective tool against the deadly diarrhoeal disease, management of which is a challenge to the doctors in the absence of a vaccine and drug resistance.

Shigellosis is a bacterial disease, marked by bloody diarrhoea with or without fever. The infection causes huge global disease burden with nearly 125 million cases and 1,60,000 deaths, with a third of these associated with children under five years age. More than 98% of the disease burden is in the developing world.

“In India, 15-18% of all diarrhoea cases of children below five years of age are caused by Shigella,” NICED director Shanta Datta told DH.

Though the disease was reported first in India in the early 1970s, the drug-resistant varieties were noticed from 1984 onward.

Developing a vaccine against Shigella is also one of the priorities outlined by the World Health Organisation.

“The vaccine candidate has shown significant immune response and protective efficacy against the infection during studies in animal models,” said NICED scientist Hemanta Koley, the lead investigator of the project.

“In animal studies, the vaccine offers more than 80% protection. It's ideal for low and middle-income countries,” added Datta.

The research was done in collaboration with Okayama University, Japan and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Japan.

“The translation of the licensed vaccine candidate to a market-ready product will involve a stringent pre-clinical and clinical development pathway before it reaches the market. The indigenous vaccine against Shigellosis is the need of the hour and is a major breakthrough,” an ICMR spokesperson said in a statement.

The technology for it was transferred to the industry in the presence of ICMR director general Balram Bhargava.

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