There could soon be a vaccine for urinary tract infections (UTIs), say researchers from the University of Michigan. This problem, which affects more women than men, is annoying and can even be painful, but it usually isn’t considered by doctors to be serious, and can be cleared up with antibiotics. However, if left untreated, a UTI can spread into the kidneys and cause permanent damage.
Researcher Harry L.T. Mobley says some women are prone to the infection, which is caused by fecal bacteria entering the vagina and travelling up the urethra and into the bladder. (Sex can trigger bacteria growth, so it’s a good idea to urinate immediately after intercourse. Also, of course, when you go to the toilet, wipe from front to back, not back to front.)
Mobley and his team developed nasal spray vaccines for UTIs, and the animal-trial results were recently published in the journal Public Library of Science Pathogens. ‘One vaccine protected the bladder and one protected the kidneys, so we would like to combine those vaccines,’ he says.
That’s the next stage of research, as well as completing human trials. Mobley estimates a human vaccine could be created and ready for government approval within five to 10 years.