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Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2004 Oct;17(5):479-82.

Potential therapeutic agents for the prevention and treatment of haemolytic uraemic syndrome in shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli infection.

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  • 1Department of Infection and Tropical Medicine, Brownlee Centre, Gartnavel General Hospital, Glasgow G12 0YN, UK.



Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) cause a wide spectrum of disease ranging from asymptomatic carriage through to haemorrhagic colitis and the haemolytic uraemic syndrome. There are no current therapeutic interventions available in clinical practice that can prevent the development of haemolytic uraemic syndrome. A number of newly developed agents offer the potential for the treatment of STEC-associated disease.


Three different classes of agent designed to bind and inactivate shiga toxin have now been developed. Synthetic toxin binders, recombinant bacteria and monoclonal antibodies provide potentially potent agents that could prevent the development of haemolytic uraemic syndrome. These agents have been shown in animal models of STEC disease to be effective. A recent clinical trial of one synthetic toxin binder showed no benefit in established haemolytic uraemic syndrome. More potent toxin binders, however, have since been developed and await human clinical trials. It is likely to be important that these agents are administered early in the course of disease in order to have maximum efficacy. Although rapid diagnostic techniques are available for the diagnosis of STEC disease, they still rely on stool culture.


Clinicians need to maintain a high level of suspicion of STEC disease as the diagnosis is often made on epidemiological and clinical grounds. This will allow potential cases to be identified early and treated appropriately.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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