Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. (TSX: BNC), a research-based, technology-driven Canadian biopharmaceutical company, announced that Econiche(TM), the world’s first vaccine developed to reduce the shedding by cattle of Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157, has been cited in the February, 2010 issue of Scientific American (Vol. 302, # 2).
The article, "The Art of Bacterial Warfare", was written by Dr. Brett Finlay, Peter Wall Distinguished Professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories, the biochemistry and molecular biology department, and the microbiology and immunology department at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Finlay’s research led to the development of Econiche.
In his article, Dr. Finlay discusses the evolution of research into disease-causing bacteria and the discovery that bacteria have become increasingly adept at penetrating organs and tissues to survive and thrive in the human body. Dr. Finlay describes the E. coli O157 bacterium as having "perhaps the most remarkable method of locking itself onto a host cell", making its own receptor in the host’s intestinal cells, anchoring it and allowing the bacterial toxins to enter the body and cause illness. Dr. Finlay further describes how E. coli O157 resides harmlessly in domestic cattle, but is released in their fecal matter where it can spread to human food and water supplies.
Most strains of E. coli are harmless but some, like O157, can cause severe illness and even be fatal when ingested by humans from contaminated meat, vegetables or water. Vaccination of cattle with Econiche can help reduce the risk of food and waterborne contamination with E. coli O157. The vaccine is fully licensed in Canada and is awaiting conditional licensing in the U.S.
An estimated 100,000 cases of human infection with the E. coli O157 organism are reported each year in North America. Two to seven per cent of those people develop haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a disease characterized by kidney failure. Five percent of HUS patients die, many of them children and senior citizens, whose kidneys are more sensitive to damage.