Lyme disease vaccine offers promising protection against harmful tick bites

NEW HAVEN, Conn. ( – A vaccine against Lyme disease may soon provide breakthrough protection against the tick-borne disease. The new formulation is very similar to the COVID-19 vaccine, and successfully protected guinea pigs from being bitten by fleas carrying Lyme, say researchers from Yale University.

Instead of causing the immune system to kick in to fight Lyme disease, the vaccine actually attacks the root of the problem – the flea’s saliva. The study authors say the new vaccine immediately induces a skin reaction in the bite victim, limiting the time the tick can feed and infect the host. This vaccine also uses the same mRNA technology that the COVID vaccine uses to protect patients.

What is Lyme?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that enters the body when a tick bites and attaches to the skin. The most recognizable sign of the disease is a bull’s-eye rash, which forms around the bite a few days or weeks later.

At first, Lyme usually causes symptoms such as rash, fever, headache, and severe fatigue. However, if the infected person is not treated early, the infection can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system – causing serious complications. There are about 40,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year in the United States, but the study authors say the number could actually be as much as 10 times higher due to underreporting. Also, Lyme disease is not the only disease insects can carry.

Senior author Erol Fikrig, professor from the Yale School of Medicine and School of Public Health, explains: “There are many diseases caused by fleas, and this approach has the potential to provide broader protection. A vaccine that targets a specific pathogen. in one university release. “It can also be used alongside more traditional pathogen-based vaccines to increase their effectiveness.”

Stop saliva production, prevent disease

Researchers explain that black-legged ticks Ixodes scapularis Lyme disease transmission Borrelia burgdorferi. The disease contains several types of protein, and the team focused their research on 19 different types.

Working with the University of Pennsylvania, they analyzed mRNA fragments that produced all 19 saliva protein markers. Scientists have created Vaccines against covid-19 used a similar strategy to develop a protective formulation against the SARS-Cov-2 virus.

Using guinea pigs, the team found that vaccinated animals quickly developed a rash at the bite site after encountering a disease-carrying tick. As long as the researchers removed the ticks shortly after the rash started, none of the guinea pigs developed Lyme disease. In contrast, about half of the unvaccinated guinea pigs were infected with B. burgdorferi even though the researchers removed the ticks.

Interesting, Vaccine is protected successfully guinea pigs were immune from a tick bite, even when the researchers left the tick on the animal’s skin. On the other hand, one tick bite resulted in Lyme disease in 60% of unvaccinated guinea pigs. The vaccine also prevents ticks from entering their host and causes them to shed from the skin more quickly.

The vaccine has its limits. Results showed that protection against Lyme disease was reduced when three ticks were left on vaccinated guinea pigs.

Vaccines enhanced tick bite recognition, in part turning tick bites into mosquito bites,” says Fikrig. “When you feel a mosquito bite, you wrap it. With the vaccine, there will be redness and itching so you can recognize you’ve been bitten and can quickly get the tick out of your body, before it’s capable of transmitting B. burgdorferi.”

So will the vaccine work in humans?

The Yale team warns that the vaccine is not a finished product and that they need to conduct more tests to see if it protects people.

Similar experiments in mice showed that the vaccine did not lead to the fleas’ ability to fight infection. The study authors believe part of this is because guinea pigs and human skin have more layers than mice. Ticks may also have evolved new ways of feeding on the rat’s prey, which scientists say is a natural host for the rat. I. scapularis ticks.

Research appears in journal Medical translation science. Lyme disease vaccine offers promising protection against harmful tick bites

Dais Johnston

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