What if a vaccine, given to patients just before or after arriving at the hospital, could protect them against lethal superbugs that lurk in health care settings?

That’s the premise behind an experimental vaccine invented by a USC-led team and patented by the university. Researchers designed the formula to prevent serious infections from drug-resistant pathogens. A new study shows that a single dose, administered in mouse models, put immune cells into “Incredible Hulk” mode, providing rapid protection against eight different bacteria and fungi species.

“It’s an early warning system. It’s like Homeland Security putting out a terror alert. ‘Everybody, keep your eyes open. Keep an eye out for suspicious packages,'” said senior author Brad Spellberg, chief medical officer at the USC-affiliated Los Angeles General Medical Center (formerly LAC+USC).

The study appears October 4 in Science Translational Medicine.

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