"The speed with which you respond to an outbreak significantly helps your ability to control that outbreak and prevent people from getting cholera," added Hubbard. "We are very focused on feasibility – the idea of being able to come in with a single-dose intervention that works rapidly but confers immunity over a long period of time is our target for the best possible vaccine."
Though future studies will need to examine the duration of HaitiV’s protection, the team is already looking into initiating a trial in human volunteers.
Also based upon the concept of a duking microbiome, the investigation led by Ning Mao of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovered that the common Lactococcus lactis bacteria – a lactic acid-producing species humans have been using to preserve foods for millennia – can inhibit proliferation of virulent cholera strains by lowering the pH of the gut. Their experiments in baby mice showed that regular intake of L. lactis supplements prevented the onset of cholera and treated existing infections.
“We found that V. cholerae-infected mice were substantially more likely to survive when they were co-inoculated with L. lactis (84.6%) compared to [control supplements] when they were mock-fed (45.7%),” they wrote.
The researchers anticipate that a line of probiotic L. lactis beverages or pills may soon provide an inexpensive and easy-to-implement defense against cholera.
If all goes according to plan, both these new vaccine candidates could help meet the World Health Organization’s goal of reducing cholera deaths by 90 percent by 2030.