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Cholera - a model problem solved?

Studying cholera just got a little easier, thanks to a new (old) animal model. For years, cholera research has relied on some less than ideal animal models: infant mice, which don't develop the diarrhea characteristic of severe cholera infection, and infant rabbits, which require surgery to infect them with the disease. A new paper selected the inaugural issue of mBio describes another approach to using infant rabbits for studying this devastating disease. By giving the rabbits a drug that inhibits acid production in the stomach prior to feeding them an infecting dose of cholera bacteria, Ritchie at al. were able to infect the animals and produce a disease state much like that suffered by human victims of cholera, including the lethal, watery diarrhea that claims thousands of lives every year. This non-surgical method for infecting infant rabbits will make the model more reproducible and enable researchers to better study the pathogenicity of cholera and test possible toxin-deficient strains for use in future vaccines. The unrevised version of Ritchie et al. is available on the mBio website today. A final, typeset version of the article will appear in the inaugural issue of the online journal in May.

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