The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year in the U.S. Now NCF givers are coming alongside researchers, the National Institutes of Health, and other funders to speed the development of a vaccine.
A research team at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine will use the funds for the development of vaccines to prevent Lyme disease and human granulocytic anaplasmosis, the two most common tick–borne infections in the United States.
Researchers Richard T. Marconi, Ph.D., and Jason Carlyon, Ph.D., professors in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, will start with existing animal vaccines to find a way for them to work for people too. “The goal of the NIH funding is to redesign the canine Lyme disease and Anaplasma vaccines for use in humans,” Marconi said.
The Marconi lab previously developed a canine Lyme disease vaccine that entered the U.S. veterinary market in 2016. More recently, the researchers developed a prototype vaccine antigen for anaplasmosis in canines. The vaccine is currently undergoing testing.
Lyme disease and anaplasmosis are caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and Anaplasma phagocytophilum, respectively. Both diseases are transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected Ixodes tick (commonly referred to as the blacklegged tick or deer tick). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates over 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year in the U.S. and approximately 100,000 cases in Europe. While approximately 5,700 cases of anaplasmosis are reported each year in the U.S., due to misdiagnosis and underreporting its true incidence is thought to be much higher.