Chlamydia is one of the largest health problems across the globe, and each year 131 million people are infected worldwide
It can leave many infected by the sexually transmitted disease infertile, which is why it is hugely promising that researchers have conducted successful first clinical trials into a vaccine.
Researchers from Statens Serum Institute (SSI) and Imperial College London have published the results in scientific journal the Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Head of Department at SSI, Frank Follman, said: “The vaccine showed the exact immune response we had hoped for and which we have seen in our animal tests. The most important result is that we have seen protective antibodies against chlamydia in the genital tracts. Our initial trials show them preventing the chlamydia bacteria from penetrating the cells of the body. This means that we have come a lot closer to a vaccine against chlamydia.”
Difficult to attack
The project started in 2004 and was in part funded by EU’s seventh framework programme and Innovation fund Denmark.
The challenge has been to find the weak point of the Chlamydia bacteria and also to find the most effective way of vaccinating.
A few years ago, researchers solved the first part of the challenge. They discovered that the weak point of the chlamydia bacteria was a special protein in the bacteria. Since then they have experimented on finding a new and more effective way of vaccinating to target this exact protein.
All women in the trial developed an immune response against Chlamydia
In the first clinical trial with this new vaccine, 35 women were vaccinated. There were no serious side effects of the vaccine.
“We took blood samples of the women during the trial. They showed that all vaccinated women had generated specific antibodies and T cells against Chlamydia,” says Frank Follmann.
Full speed ahead on the development of the vaccine
The question now is if the vaccine will protect against chlamydia when women are infected in the real world.
“Research shows that the combination of antibodies and T cells does protect against chlamydia, but, of course, we have to test the vaccine in larger and more long-termed clinical trials to see if it protects against infection. Given the results at hand, we have accelerated our further clinical trials,” says Frank Follmann.
Professor Peter L Andersen, Head of SSI’s Center for Vaccine Research, said: “The HPV vaccine has shown us how effective vaccination can be against a sexually transmitted infection. We hope to do the same with chlamydia and, in the long term, combine the two vaccines.”
Chlamydia can last up to one year and if not treated can cause infertility, pregnancy outside the uterus, chronic abdominal pain in women and Epididymitis in men, which is a swelling of the tube at the back of the testicle that stores and carries sperm.
To read more about other causes of infertility click here