Lyme Disease Prevention – Vaccination

lyme disease vaccineAnother Lyme disease prevention strategy is vaccination, although this is only currently available for preventing Lyme disease in dogs as the human vaccine was voluntarily withdrawn from the market in 2002. Vaccination against Lyme disease looked like a promising avenue to explore given the problems with both diagnosis and treatment for many patients and the potential for patients to become infected over and over again when they live in a Lyme endemic area. However, the introduction of the LYMErix vaccine in the US was followed by considerable negative publicity as those receiving the vaccine claimed to have suffered serious immunological responses to it resulting in symptoms worse than Lyme disease itself.

No connection between the Lyme disease vaccine and chronic symptoms was found upon investigation but the manufacturer, the company now operating as Glaxo-Smith Kline, withdrew the product citing poor sales. No other manufacturer has dared to get their fingers burnt since, with one Canadian company consigning their project to the scrapheap, and the European Lyme disease vaccine being developed by GSK also scrapped at the time.

Lyme Vaccines for Dogs

Vaccines have continued to be available for dogs however, which causes consternation in many circles. The main reason for this is that the Lyme disease vaccine for dogs consists of a whole cell, chemically inactivated, preparation of Borrelia burgdorferi spirochaetes injected along with an adjuvant to trigger an immune response. Administering the same type of vaccine in humans would raise concerns over induced immunopathology through cross-reaction with human antigens. Instead, human vaccine development has focused primarily on the immunogenic potential of the outer surface proteins (Osps) used by the bacteria during infection and transmission.

Osps have been studied quite extensively, with OspA looking most promising as a way of preventing initial infection with Lyme disease bacteria and possibly clearing an infected tick of the bacteria themselves. Such protection against Borrelia, whilst clearly advantageous, does not address the common co-infections many Lyme disease patients experience, such as Babesiosis, and Bartonella. With the number of Lyme disease cases on the rise across the US it is likely that vaccination will form a key part of future Lyme disease prevention efforts however, as the pay-off for drug companies may be bigger than ever before.

Continue Reading –> Lyme Disease Prevention – Reducing Tick Exposure