The study aims to find out if people develop immunity against a common stomach infection called Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori.
Prof Marshall and colleagues at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital believe H. pylori could be used to create a new super-vaccine if they can prove people never become immune to it.
They believe the bacterium could be used to deliver vaccines against multiple strains of viruses such as influenza and bird-flu and possibly even HIV or malaria.
Prof Marshall, a consultant gastroenterologist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, said: “There is anecdotal evidence to suggest people do not develop immunity against H. pylori. However, we need to conduct this study to determine conclusively if this is really the case.”
“If we can demonstrate that the immune system cannot protect against H. pylori, then we may be able to use this bacterium to deliver multiple vaccines into the body. These vaccines could protect against many strains of virus. It would revolutionise the fight against viruses and micro-organisms such as influenza, HIV and malaria which are constantly evolving.”
Approximately one in four people carries H. pylori. If you were born outside Australia, or if you know someone who had H.pylori, you could be a silent carrier. Most carriers contract the bacterium in childhood and the vast majority suffer no ill effects during their lives. The infection can usually be treated with conventional antibiotics.
In some cases H. pylori can trigger stomach ulcers. In 2005, Prof Marshall and Dr Robin Warren were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine when they proved that the bacterium rather than stress or spicy food caused most stomach ulcers.
Anyone between the age of 18 and 65 who is interested in
volunteering to take part in this study can obtain further information
by telephoning 9346 4725
or by e-mailing [email protected].
Ray Dunne (Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital) 61 8 9346 2404.