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Lyme Disease Vaccine Shows Promise in Clinical Trials

Aug 10, 2013 11:49 AM EDT
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To formulate a Lyme vaccine that is effective on all Borrelia species, researchers bioengineered a set of outer surface proteins that share different parts from different strains of the bacteria
A vaccine for Lyme disease has shown promise in clinical trials, producing substantial antibodies against the bacteria that causes the disease.
(Photo : Stony Brook University School of Medicine)

A vaccine for Lyme disease has shown promise in clinical trials, producing substantial antibodies against the bacteria that causes the disease.

Researchers at Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and at Baxter International Inc., a U.S.-based healthcare company, published the results of the first half of their clinical trial in May in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

In the clinical trial administered by Baxter International, the vaccine was shown to be effective against Borrelia, the causative agent of Lyme disease.

In the clinical study, 300 people living in Austria and Germany were given three primary immunizations and one booster immunization in a range of doses.

The researchers report that in all administered doses of the vaccine, the patients showed an immune response to all species of Borrelia.

"The results of the clinical trial conducted by Baxter are promising because the vaccine generated a potent human immune reaction, covered the complete range of Borrelia active in the entire Northern hemisphere, and produced no major side effects," said study co-author Dr. Benjamin Luft of Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

"We hope that a larger-scale, Phase 3 trial will demonstrate not only a strong immune response but true efficacy in a large population that illustrates protection against Lyme disease," he said.

Luft has been working on a Lyme disease vaccine since the early 1990s. One of the primary challenges he faced over the years was finding a vaccination method that was effective against all 36 known species of Borrelia.

The vaccine works by deploying a set of bio-engineered OspA proteins not found in nature.

"After a series of experimentations and refinements, formulations consisting of these new OspA proteins were shown to protect against a broad spectrum of Lyme disease spirochetes," Luft said.

The clinical trial of the vaccine is still ongoing.

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