New vaccine against Lyme

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New vaccine against Lyme
New vaccine against Lyme

New vaccine against Lyme disease

Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease characterized by skin infections, arthritis and neurological problems. Scientists have now developed a new vaccine that has already been used successfully in diseased mice. Their research was published in the November issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Lyme disease is caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, which lives in the midgut of cattle ticks and is transmitted into the blood of animals with the tick's saliva.

It is now possible to prevent infection with a vaccine. This enables the immune system to recognize a protein on the surface of the bacterium, OspA. But once the pathogen has made itself comfortable in the body of the infected person, this vaccine is ineffective. The reason is that the bacterium "disguises itself" so to speak: the OspA is converted into a related protein, the OspC.

Various working groups have already tried to develop a vaccine that the immune system can use to identify OspC. A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Immunology, Freiburg, the University of Heidelberg and the University of Neuchatel has now isolated a stable form of OspC. To test its protective effect, five mice suffering from Lyme disease were injected with high doses of OspC 10 to 19 days after infection. All mice were cured of their symptoms. In addition, the researchers were only able to detect bacteria in one mouse. The next question is whether the bacteria were actually eliminated, or whether there were so few left that they could no longer be detected.

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