“For most people, E. coli may as well be short for “I will make you so sick.” Researchers with the University of Louisville School of Dentistry believe that parts of the E. coli bacteria could be used to help keep people healthy — right down to their teeth.

Research fellow Shuang Liang and Georgios Hajishengallis, associate professor of dentistry, have found that removing the toxic part of an E. coli protein leaves it harmless but still able to tell the body to begin an immune response. That could make it useful for vaccines against many diseases.

Vaccines work by telling the immune system to fight disease-causing bacteria. A vaccine typically includes a harmless version of the targeted bacteria and an adjuvant, an added substance that alerts the immune system to its presence.”

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