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Vaccine to Target Ear Infections and Respiratory Illnesses in the Works

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center are looking to develop a vaccination that would immunize young children and adults against Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae, which is the leading source of otitis media (ear infections), sinus infections, and bronchitis. Although these common illnesses are not life-threatening, the risks of chronic infection can preclude normal speech and language development in children and become a nuisance to adults.

Statistically, over 83% of children in the United States will suffer one or more ear infections before the age of three. These infections are often treated with antibiotics; children who suffer from sequential ear infections may become immune to the oral antibiotics as their bodies develop a defense for the drugs. Chronic ear infections which go untreated can even cause permanent hearing loss in some of these children.

An immunization designed to prevent childhood pneumonia and meningitis was also developed by researchers at Rochester and is available on the market. Dr. Michael Pichichero, who leads the current immunization trial, recently said in an interview published with Reuters, "Our ultimate goal would be to combine the three ingredients from the Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae vaccine with the streptococcal vaccine, giving a vaccine that would prevent 90 percent of ear infections, sinus infections and bronchitis."

The current trials are being funded by grants from the National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders and the Thrasher foundation, and include pediatric test participants.

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