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Drug Trial for Lyme Disease Vaccine Reports Promising Results

Update Date: May 13, 2013 02:32 PM EDT

Lyme disease, which is usually contracted via ticks, is an infectious disease that can cause fevers, depression, skin rashes and headaches. Lyme disease can often go untreated and result in worse conditions, which is why it is important for people to protect themselves from this disease. The research team composed of scientists from Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Baxter International Inc., all came together to create a new Lyme disease vaccine with the hopes that it could protect people from the disease. This new vaccine currently in a phase 1/2 clinical trial in Europe, has been worked on since the early 1990s by Benjamin Luft, MD and John Dunn, Ph.D. Along with researchers from the American health care company, Baxter International, the team developed a vaccine that promises to be effective in treating Lyme Disease.

Since the study is ongoing, the results from this early stage might not mean anything further down the line. But until more results come in, the vaccine is proving to be quite successful. According to the researchers, one of the biggest challenges that they encountered while creating the vaccine was finding a way to make a single vaccine that could be effective on all Borrelia species, which is the bacteria responsible for the infection. Since there are several species of bacteria linked to Lyme disease, the researchers chose to focus on a particular Borrelia protein that lies on the outer surface of the bacteria. The researchers used a scaffold of the protein, known as OspA, and created a group of OspA protein, known as chimeras that cannot be found in nature.

After incorporating this new set of OspA proteins, the researchers discovered that the vaccine was effective against their desired species of Borrelia. The vaccine was able to produce antibodies that could fight against a wide range of Boreelia species.

"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 Dr. Luft. "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."

The findings were published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

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