A vaccine tested for the first time has had encouraging results. If its effectiveness is confirmed, it would prevent this infection that can make women sterile.
Will women ever be able to get vaccinated against chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease that can make them sterile? The first vaccine against this infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, under development, has in any case obtained promising first results. Published August 12 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases by Dr. Sonya Abraham’s team (Imperial College London), they show that this vaccine is “safe and able to provoke an immune response.”
A small workforce
A total of 35 women were included in the study and divided into three groups: the first to receive a first formulation of the vaccine; the second a second formulation; and the third a placebo, saltwater. None were infected with chlamydia. The vaccine or placebo was administered five times: three bites in the arm and two sprays in the nose.
Both formulations of the vaccine elicited an immune response among all participants but one, less successful than the other, was not retained for further research. If an immune response has been observed, it is not certain that this response is sufficient to prevent infection. Thus, according to the study “further research will indeed be needed to determine whether the immune response provoked effectively protects against chlamydia infection.” Researchers are already considering the next step, a phase 2 clinical study.
Risks of infertility
With nearly 127 million new infections worldwide in 2016 according to WHO estimates, chlamydia is a global problem. It particularly affects women from 18 to 25 years old. Asymptomatic in most female cases, it is probably underdiagnosed: in fact some 70% of infected women do not feel any symptoms and do not know that they have contracted this sexually transmitted infection (STI).
If it does not cause obvious symptoms, chlamydia can have disastrous consequences such as ectopic pregnancies or even sterility in the most serious cases. In addition, it increases the risk of contracting other STIs, such as gonorrhea or HIV infection, the AIDS virus.
The treatment consists of a simple antibiotic treatment. But “given the impact of this epidemic on women’s health, on reproductive health, on the health of children in case of transmission, the need for a vaccine is real,” says one of the authors of the study, Professor Peter Andersen, of the Danish Research Institute Statens Serum Institute.
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