University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc., Athens, GA
New Vaccine for Whooping Cough
Whooping cough, caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis, can be fatal in infants. The currently available vaccine protects against the most severe symptoms, but it is not effective in preventing the transmission of bacteria to other people. It also does not protect against two other species of Bordetella that also cause disease. Bacteria are able to alter immune responses to avoid detection and persist in the body. We have identified a gene that is important for the persistence of Bordetella. We will begin to unravel the mechanisms by which Bordetella and other bacteria manipulate the immune system. We will use this knowledge to design new, more effective vaccines that will not only protect against disease caused by multiple Bordetella species but also prevent transmission of the bacteria.