Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Nov. 1, 1996

Swine research grant could help children

by Steve Jones
The National Institutes of Health has awarded Iowa State $772,000 to study an E. coli disease in swine that could lead to a better understanding of a devastating kidney disease in children.

In a five-year project, veterinary pathologist Harley Moon will lead a group of researchers studying edema disease in young pigs. A vaccine exists for the swine disease and they hope to determine if a vaccine can be developed for a similar disease in children called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

Both HUS and the swine disease are caused by the same type of E. coli bacteria that colonize the intestine and produce a toxin, which is absorbed through the bloodstream and damages blood vessels.

In humans, HUS can lead to a variety of health problems, including diarrhea and intestinal bleeding. As the toxin is absorbed by the body, it binds to the kidneys.

The researchers hope to learn whether some children suffer from a milder form of HUS that has no visible symptoms, but is thought to impair growth.

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