Dr. DuPont’s major research goals are to define the epidemiology, immunology, genetic resistance, clinical features, control, prevention and therapy of enteric infectious diseases. Laboratory techniques and procedures are typically developed in Houston and taken to the field in an international setting.
Four lines of research are currently being conducted by Dr. DuPont and his colleagues. The first is a study of the pathogenesis and epidemiology of diarrhea caused by definable enteric pathogens including enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), enteroaggregative E. coli and norovirus. Molecular typing for epidemiologic studies and novel detection methods including Real-time PCR laboratory methods are being performed in Houston to define microbial virulence genes. Secondly, this group is looking at the host genetics and susceptibility to travelers’ diarrhea and post- infectious irritable bowel syndrome (PI-IBS) with a focus on inflammatory cytokine polymorphisms. Thirdly, clinical trials with novel compounds to prevent and treat travelers’ diarrhea are being carried out. Currently, the group is evaluating a nonabsorbed rifamycin derivative, rifaximin in the prevention and treatment of acute bacterial diarrhea. Finally, this group is working with new vaccines to prevent bacterial and viral diarrhea. The group just completed an international field trial demonstrating a high degree of effectiveness in preventing travelers’ diarrhea and ETEC diarrhea through administration of a transcutaneously applied patch ETEC vaccine developed by IOMAI Corporation. Future clinical studies of safety, immunogenicity and efficacy with this patch vaccine are being planned.