This bacterium called Peti may fight off a common disease that kills hundreds of people in the US every year

Story highlights Peti, a lab-made bacterium, damages tissue and interferes with the immune system. But an updated Pfizer vaccine helps prevent the damage and invades the lab-made bacteria.

Peti’s activity is low enough that most people won’t encounter it unless they come into contact with someone else who does. It causes a build-up of a type of infection called keratitis. In the United States, roughly 1.5 million people get this every year and it’s potentially fatal if left untreated. In the European Union, roughly 900,000 people are affected.

Peti’s activity is low enough that most people won’t encounter it unless they come into contact with someone else who does. It causes a build-up of a type of infection called keratitis. In the United States, roughly 1.5 million people get this every year and it’s potentially fatal if left untreated. In the European Union, roughly 900,000 people are affected. If that wasn’t enough for you to be excited about, Peti uses a nanobot technology that’s much smaller than a human hair. According to Brian Shierholz, deputy chief of innovation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that’s a big deal. “This cell was designed in a lab and it’s size was chosen at such a tiny, tiny level to fill to cancerous cells.”

More recently, Pfizer has tested a vaccine against Peti in humans and found it offers partial protection against the injury and complicates the infection.

For Peti, the vaccine isn’t being tested as a prevention against the disease itself, but rather against the potential damage, as in the case of other infections.

The vaccine, branded PYLSEN, is still in early stages of development, but it appears to give partial protection against Peti. In the five-year study, 2,000 healthy volunteers between the ages of 12 and 50 between 2012 and 2015 were vaccinated with either the regular vaccine, a number of two doses of the vaccine, or Petri, though they were not told what their respective vaccine contained. Petri was given to 100% of the volunteers in the human clinical trial and 90% of the volunteers in the lab-made Petri vaccine study.

PYLSEN, which stands for an antitoxin polymerase inhibitor for the chemo viral enzyme designed for the IgG antibody system, has until now been applied to a few different types of diseases, but primarily to cytomegalovirus (CMV), the most common human herpesvirus. This is a small, harmless virus, but it causes serious disease in babies, particularly a birth defect called congenital rubella syndrome.

Some critics think Petri shouldn’t be considered a vaccine because it doesn’t fight against an actual infection. Shierholz disagrees. “Certainly it’s hard to see how if it were just a macular viral [trojan horse]. that it would be considered a vaccine.” The trial was both animal and human trials. Both tested the effectiveness of the vaccine against Petri and CMV. In both trials, it was effective in blocking the invasion of the infectious white blood cells that are the primary threat to immune cells.

The trial results are still unconfirmed, so it’s not certain if you or someone you know has been vaccinated against Petri. It’s also uncertain if the vaccine will prevent subsequent infections.

In case you’re curious to know more about Petri, according to the University of California at Davis, “Pipoplasm mummies” (pups left in Petri’s corpse shell, which is that entire bacterial mass that goes in there) have remained untouched for centuries. When the decaying creatures have been frozen and decayed, the pathogen-containing proteins can be easily seen through the scales. There were no human study animals.

If you’re worried you might have a chronic allergic condition that could have been alleviated by this vaccine, you should talk to your doctor. There’s no guarantee he’ll recommend it or, if he does, have another treatment available for you.

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a sponsored collaboration between Pfizer and CNN.

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