Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines arm of French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis, has hooked up with the US Naval Medical Research Center to develop a vaccine against travellers’ diahorrea.

According to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, travellers’ diahorrea, which is more formally known as enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), claims the lives of nearly 400,000 children in the developing world every year, and is also the number one cause of infectious gastroenteritis in travellers and deployed military personnel.

As such, there is a considerable need for an efficient vaccine that can protect against the spread of the bacteria, which causes around 210 million episodes of diahorrea every year, and Sanofi has bagged exclusive rights to the technology - developed by the NMRC with the help of the University of Colorado - underpinning the vaccine in the hope that it can speed up its development.

Under the terms of the deal, financial details of which have not been revealed, the two groups will work together on the preclinical development of the vaccine over the next four years, “providing a solid basis for launching clinical development”, noted Wayne Pisano, president and chief executive of Sanofi Pasteur.

“We believe that this vaccine has the potential to curtail the number and severity of food-borne illnesses due to ETEC, and it may also decrease the risk of post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome, which afflicts one in ten who experience traveller’s diahorrea,” Pisano said, explaining his firm’s interest in the deal.