A phase one study involving 35 women have revealed researchers have developed a safe and effective chlamydia vaccine.
In the study, two potential vaccines were given to the women, and their bodies developed antibodies to the bacteria that causes chlamydia. However, researchers say more work must be done before the vaccine is public-ready.
The First Step Is A Promising One
Lead researcher and Center for Vaccine Research at Statens Serum Institute Director of Infectious disease immunology Frank Follmann said having an effective vaccine would have a huge impact on both public health and economics.
He said the phase one trial shows that it’s the first hopeful step to getting a vaccine. Follmann said the HPV vaccine success shows just how effective vaccines are against STDs. He said the hope is to have a chlamydia vaccine that may include a combination of them. The study’s results are encouraging with the end goal to inoculate young girls and boys before they start having sex.
Another expert, Fred Wyand, said the findings are promising. Wyand, a spokesperson for the American Sexual Health Association, said it’s been a challenge to develop a chlamydia vaccine, but there is reason to hope that it can be possible someday thanks to the study.
Wyand said it’s important to remember that chlamydia can be easily diagnosed, treated and cured through testing. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends women 25 and older who are sexually active should get yearly chlamydia testing.
During the trial, women were randomly given one of the two vaccines or the placebo. Of the women who received the vaccine, their body produced antibodies to the disease. However, one vaccine – the CTH522:CAF01 – generated six times more antibodies than the other potential vaccine.
Researchers said this is the formula that needs to be pursued. The results, however, do not show a long-term protection from chlamydia or that it will certainly protect someone from getting it.
The most common side effects of the injection were pain and tenderness, but they only lasted up to four days and were mild.
Follman said research shows T-cells and antibodies can work together to protect against chlamydia, but larger and long-term clinical trials are necessary to determine if the vaccine can protect people from becoming infected with the chlamydia bacteria.
The most common STI is chlamydia with 131 people infected every year – mostly in teens and young adults.
The chlamydia infection also increases a person chances of contracting other STIs like HIV and gonorrhea. Pregnant women with chlamydia can suffer from a miscarriage, stillbirth or go into pre-term labor. Women who are infected with the virus could experience pelvic inflammatory disease that can lead to ectopic pregnancy, pelvic pain and infertility.
While women suffer more repercussions of a chlamydia infection, men can also catch it too.
University of North Carolina Professor of Pediatrics, microbiology and immunology Dr. Toni Darville said the clinical chlamydia vaccine testing is still in the early stages but does signify some optimism for future generations.
One important questions that stills need to be answered is can the vaccine can protect women from damage in the upper reproductive tract even if it’s unable to stop the infection totally. If immune cells can obliterate the infection before it can get to the fallopian tubes or oviducts, it may provide protection from chlamydia even if there is an infection.
She also wondered if the vaccine would be permissible to both women and men, which would end up protecting women in the long run.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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