Development of a vaccine for Chlamydia

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A Wayne State University School of Medicine researcher has developed a potential first ever vaccine for Chlamydia, the world’s most prevalent sexually transmitted disease and the leading cause of new cases of blindness.

Judith Whittum-Hudson, Ph.D., professor of immunology and microbiology, internal medicine and ophthalmology, has identified three peptides that have demonstrated a vaccine effect to inoculate against Chlamydia successfully in an animal model. Those findings could soon result in a vaccine for humans.

While Chlamydia infection can be readily addressed with a regimen of antibiotics, the treatment does not prevent re-infection.

“There is no vaccine and the disease is widely rampant,” Whittum-Hudson said. “Antibiotics, while effective in treatment, offer no protection against re-infection.”

The technology developed by Dr. Whittum-Hudson consists of novel peptide immunogens selected from a random phage display library by an antibody against a Chlamydial glycolipid exoantigen, or GLXA, or peptides that correspond to antigen-binding regions of an anti-idiotypic antibody mimic of GLXA. The peptides comprising the vaccine would induce antibodies and other immune responses to the entire spectrum of genus-wide Chlamydia. Whittum-Hudson said colleagues have developed a method to encapsulate the vaccine, so that it can be delivered orally rather than through injection, a boon to developing nations that lack the infrastructure to support inoculations through needle injection.

Chlamydial infections are the leading cause of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), because Chlamydia infects the lower genital track and then may ascend into the fallopian tubes. PID can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy and chronic pelvic pain. Because an estimated 85 percent of women infected with Chlamydia are asymptomatic, the disease can wreak its permanent damage before they even become aware of the infection.

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