University of Victoria microbiologist Caroline Cameron and her team have received a patent for their vaccine component that could prevent the spread of syphilis.
The vaccine that Cameron and her team created is a protein aimed at blocking the bacteria from entering the bloodstream.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted bacterial disease that dates back to at least 1495.
Nowadays it’s treatable with antibiotics, but the disease remains problematic because it is so infectious.
Worldwide, there are approximately 11 million cases of syphilis each year.
Currently, the rate of the disease in Canada is the highest it’s been in 3o years.
If left untreated, the disease can cause irreversible tissue damage and increases the likelihood of contracting HIV.
Syphilis also remains the leading cause of infectious stillbirths in low-income countries, leading to more than 205,000 fetal and newborn deaths annually.
“The pathogen that causes syphilis can pass from the bloodstream into the brain, and from a pregnant woman to her fetus,” explains Cameron.
The World Health Organization hopes to reduce the disease by 90 per cent around the world, and by 2030 aims to reduce the number of babies born with syphilis to 50 or fewer cases per 100,000 live births in 80 per cent of affected countries.
“A vaccine would provide an effective tool against the global fight against syphilis, when added to prevention, screening and treatment programs,” says Cameron.
The venture is a collaboration with researchers at the University of Washington and Infectious Disease Research Institute looking to incorporate this patented protein component fully into a viable vaccine.