A vaccine for Shigella developed by scientists at the University of Kansas (KU) and Oklahoma State University (OSU) will go through Phase I clinical trials at a medical center in the Baltimore, MD, area later this year. http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-doctor-give-injection-to-boy-s-arm-image33311792The trials are a milestone for research now centered at the new Kansas Vaccine Institute (KVI) at the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy. The KVI, established last summer with financing which included state funding, brought former KU students William and Wendy Picking back to the Lawrence, KS, campus to work on vaccines for bacterial pathogens responsible for digestive diseases. Dr. William D. Picking was recruited from OSU, where he headed the Microbiology Department for five years, to be the KVI’s first director. He was also named Foundation Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry when he returned to KU. At the same time, Dr. Wendy Picking, an associate professor at OSU, was named a professor at KU. Her research interests are vaccine development — especially for the children of low-income countries, enteric bacterial pathogens, and type III secretion system. The patents associated with the development of the Shigella vaccine will be shared by KU and OSU. Others that are in the works will be held entirely by KU and its KVI partners, which include Kansas State University, the Kansas City Area Life Science Institute and various KU centers. While not as far along, the Pickings are also focused on a vaccine for Salmonella. Among the developed world’s nasty foodborne diseases, Shigella and Salmonella cut short the lives millions of children in the Third World. Wendy Picking, KVI’s lead researcher, calls Shigella “a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in kids two and five years old in the developing world.” The pathogen leads to dysentery in areas of Asia and Africa where clean water is often in short supply. William Picking, KVI’s director, says the clinical trials for the Shigella vaccine will pinpoint dosages and detect any side effects. KVI was established to help move basic research along to commercial uses. The goal is to improve both human and animal health around the world. He says another goal of the vaccine center will be to educate the public on the value of vaccines, including their benefits and safety. The Pickings are native Kansans who met on the KU campus, where they remained long enough to obtain their doctoral degrees.