Drinking E. coli for science

There’s just not enough grad students willing to go deep and shield professors from abusive partners, bail their professors out of jail, coach girls hockey or drink E. coli for the sake of science.

Rachael Rettner of Live Science reports that in a new studdy, volunteers downed a cup of E. coli, for science.

Their fortitude paid off. Scientists were able to study an important question: whether a person’s blood type affects the severity of an “Enterotoxigenic E. coli” infection, the leading cause of traveler’s diarrhea.

It turns out, there was a difference in severity by blood type: Those with blood type A got sick sooner, and experienced more severe symptoms, than those with blood type B or O, the researchers said. [Top 7 Germs in Food that Make You Sick]

What’s more, the study uncovered an explanation for these findings: It appears that the bacteria release a protein that attaches to intestinal cells in people with blood type A, but not in people with other blood types.

The new finding might one day lead to the development of a vaccine that could reduce disease severity in people with type A blood. “A vaccine targeting this protein would potentially protect the individuals at highest risk for severe disease,” study senior author Dr. James Fleckenstein, an associate professor of medicine and molecular microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a statement.

The study was published online (May 17) in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Original article on Live Science.