A vaccine against Lyme disease could be available soon, Axios reports.
Earlier this month, Moderna announced two new development candidates for Lyme disease mRNA vaccines.
Pfizer and Valneva also have a vaccine candidate, VLA15, which is already in the late stages of clinical trials, but many of their clinical trial participants, including children as young as five, were discontinued due to violations of Good Clinical Practices (GCP) on how the trial sites were managed by third-party operators.
However, Pfizer and Valneva say they can still apply for Food and Drug Association approval as early as 2025.
Lyme disease is the “most common vector-borne disease in the United States” with symptoms including fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes or rashes, according to the CDC. If left untreated, long-term symptoms can include facial paralysis, palpitations or irregular heartbeat, nerve pain, and swelling of the brain and spinal cord.
There is concern about the rise in cases of Lyme disease, which has nearly doubled since 1991, particularly due to climate change.
“The studies provide evidence that climate change has contributed to the expansion of tick ranges, increasing the potential risk of Lyme disease, such as in areas of Canada where ticks previously could not survive,” according to the Agency. of Environmental Protection. “The life cycle and prevalence of deer ticks are strongly influenced by temperature.”
The agency goes on to explain: “Because tick activity is dependent on temperatures being above a certain minimum, shorter winters could also extend the period that ticks are active each year, increasing the time humans could be exposed to Lyme disease.
The increased lifespan of ticks can turn Lyme disease from a summer problem to a year-round problem.
“Without treatment, Lyme disease can be very serious,” Leana Wen, an emergency room physician and professor at George Washington University, told Axios Today. “Some people develop debilitating symptoms that really impact their lives.”
More than two decades ago, in 2002, the only available vaccine for Lyme disease, LYMERix, was withdrawn from the market and discontinued by the manufacturer due to “insufficient consumer demand,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. of Diseases.
Demand for the vaccine reportedly declined due to adverse effects such as arthritis, as well as general anti-vaccine sentiment, but the FDA found “sufficient evidence to support a causal relationship” between the effects and the vaccine, they concluded. the researchers in the journal Epidemiology & Infection. in 2007.
“However, public perception of potential risks, heavily influenced by negative press coverage and limited awareness of the vaccine’s benefits, decreased consumer demand for the vaccine,” the experts added at that time. moment.
The removal of LYMERix, by the former SmithKline Beecham, from the market left people with no alternatives besides antibiotics for after a tick bite, such as doxycycline, and drugmakers did not make a new vaccine because of the risk market potential, Nadine Bowden of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) told Axios.
“Is it worth the investment and the risk?” Bowden asked.
Aside from the vaccine, researchers are looking at other alternatives to protect against Lyme disease, including a human monoclonal antibody as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for Lyme disease, more sensitive tests that look at biomarkers released by the body. when you have Lyme disease, as well as vaccinating mice in tick-infested areas in the hope of spreading immunity to the ticks themselves.
Currently, the most efficient way to protect yourself against Lyme disease is to use insect repellent and wear clothing that covers your skin in areas with a high tick population, as well as checking yourself for ticks.