‘Groundbreaking’ UTI vaccine could stop infections for nine years

The painful bacterial infection is experienced by half of all women

Maryam Zakir-Hussain
Sunday 07 April 2024 16:04 BST
(Getty Images)

Recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be prevented for up to nine years with an oral spray vaccine, a “breakthrough” British trial has found.

The painful bacterial infection is experienced by half of all women and one in five men, and can be particularly dangerous for older people. Symptoms include a burning sensation when you urinate or needing to go to the toilet more often than usual.

Recurrent infections develop in 20 to 30 per cent of cases and require short-term antibiotic treatment. However, these drugs are becoming less effective as antibiotic-resistant infections are on the rise.

In a long-running trial conducted by clinicians at the UK’s Royal Berkshire Hospital, 89 patients were asked to spray the pineapple-flavoured vaccine under the tongue every day for three months, and then followed up the patients for nine years.

In both men and women with recurrent UTIs, over half (54 per cent) remained UTI-free for nine years after the vaccine, with no notable side effects reported.

The average infection-free period across the cohort was 54.7 months (four and a half years) – 56.7 months for women and 44.3 months, one year less, for men. Forty per cent of the trial participants reported having second doses of the vaccine after one or two years.

Dr Bob Yang, consultant urologist at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, who co-led the research, said: “Before having the vaccine, all our participants suffered from recurrent UTIs, and for many women, these can be difficult to treat.

“Nine years after first receiving this new UTI vaccine, around half of the participants remained infection-free.

“Overall, this vaccine is safe in the long term and our participants reported having fewer UTIs that were less severe. Many of those who did get a UTI told us that simply drinking plenty of water was enough to treat it.

“Many of our participants told us that having the vaccine restored their quality of life.”

The vaccine was developed by Spain-based pharmaceutical company Immunotek. The MV140 contains four bacterial species in a suspension of water. It is available off-license in 26 countries.

The research was presented this weekend at the European Association of Urology (EAU) Congress in Paris.

The new results are expected to be passed to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before the vaccine can be passed on for use on the NHS.

Gernot Bonkat, chairman of the EAU Guidelines on Urological Infections, said: “These findings are promising. Recurrent UTIs are a substantial economic burden and the overuse of antibiotic treatments can lead to antibiotic-resistant infections.

“This follow-up study reveals encouraging data about the long-term safety and effectiveness of the MV140 vaccine.

“While we need to be pragmatic, this vaccine is a potential breakthrough in preventing UTIs and could offer a safe and effective alternative to conventional treatments.”

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