A Vaccine to Prevent Lyme Disease Is in Its Final Trial

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Approximately 6,000 people in the U.S. and Europe are participating in the trial

Outdoors enthusiasts may have a new weapon against Lyme disease in the near future if a new vaccine to prevent the often-debilitating disease performs well in a final-phase trial.

According to NPR.org, if the phase three study is a success and it gains regulators' approval, the vaccine would become the only one available to prevent Lyme disease in the U.S. and could protect people as young as five. 

Called VLA15, the vaccine was created by Pfizer and French drugmaker Valneva. The pharmaceutical companies say they would likely seek official authorization in 2025.

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"We are extremely pleased to reach this important milestone in the development of VLA15," Valneva's chief medical officer Juan Carlos Jaramillo said in a statement. "Lyme disease continues to spread, representing a high unmet medical need that impacts the lives of many in the Northern Hemisphere."

Another Lyme disease vaccine, called LYMERix, was withdrawn from the market 20 years ago because some users claimed it caused adverse reactions, such as arthritis. But the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said analysis by the FDA and others did not support that conclusion. But the vaccine was discontinued after a disinterest in use.

There’s currently only a Lyme disease vaccine on the U.S market for dogs.

Approximately 6,000 people in the U.S. and Europe are participating in the study for the new vaccine, Pfizer and Valneva say.

The drug companies report that the earlier trials are promising, as the vaccine provoked a strong immune response "with acceptable safety and tolerability profiles" in adults and kids.

A monoclonal antibody developed by MassBiologics, part of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, is also in the works. The first phase of human trials has concluded, and a second phase will likely start next spring.

According to the CDC, Lyme disease is spread by black-legged ticks and symptoms can include fever, headache, and a bullseye-type rash. Later symptoms can include joint pain, facial palsy, and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Antibiotics can treat the disease, especially in its early stages, but some people develop additional and persistent symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and an inability to focus.

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