Yale Researchers Develop Promising Lyme Disease Vaccine
Researchers at Yale University have developed an mRNA vaccine against lyme disease that triggers an immune response at the site of a tick bite and gives partial protection against the disease-causing bacteria.
Currently, there are no commercially available vaccines for lyme disease. This new solution is unique in that it targets the vector of transmission rather than the actual pathogen itself.
“Lyme disease is the most common Tick–borne human illness in the United States, leaving an urgent need for either therapies or preventative strategies, such as a vaccine,” said Jacqueline Mathias dos Santos, a postdoctoral associate at the School of Medicine. “Our vaccine is unique in that we don’t actually target the pathogen, we target the vector … instead. This strategy can work for Borrelia because it takes around 24 hours of tick feeding for the pathogen to be transmitted. This offers a unique opportunity to disrupt transmission. Additionally, by targeting the vector, we don’t expect this to drive resistance by the pathogen.”
While ticks can be difficult to detect due to their small size, eliciting an immune response at the site of the bite can allow for a quicker removal. Ticks need to stay attached for 24 hours in order to transmit the bacteria, according to Matias dos Santos.
The technology for this vaccine has been decades in the making, and has been a joint effort by Erol Fikrig’s laboratory at the Yale School of Medicine and Drew Weissman’s laboratory at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
The vaccine has been tested on guinea pigs but has not yet undergone clinical trials.
Image source: Yale University