A medical research team from The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) has developed the first prototype vaccine
candidate for Neisseria gonorrhoeae
, the bacterium that causes gonorrhea
, a sexually transmitted infection
that affects men and women. Untreated, gonorrhea can cause infertility in women and also a host of other long term medical complications and issues.
Dr Peter A. Rice, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, UMMS and senior author of the study commented to Thailand Medical
news, "The global spread of multidrug-resistant strains of N. gonorrhoeae
constitutes a public health emergency. With antibiotic treatment options becoming limited, there is an urgent need for development of a safe and effective vaccine against gonorrhea
. The UMMS team has developed a gonococcal vaccine
candidate, a complex peptide that is both scalable and economically produced to a high degree of purity. The candidate elicits bactericidal (killing) antibodies and is efficacious in a preclinical experimental infection model."
There is no gonococcal vaccine
currently that effectively prevents or curtails gonorrhea
has become resistant to almost every antibiotic in clinical use, even as the number of cases reported is increasing rapidly almost 650,000 cases were reported in the United States in 2018, a 65 percent increase in the past five years. Worldwide, there were an estimated 103 million cases in 2018. An economical and effective vaccine
would help the global spread of a dangerous, multi-drug resistant, organism.
The research team developed a vaccine
candidate, a synthetic compound, represents a mimic of a highly represented molecule on the surface of gonococcal
organisms that is replicated many times on its surface and is shared by almost all gonococci
, while also serving as the target of vaccine
elicited antibody. The vaccine
formulation also includes an adjuvant to increase the immune response against the organism. The vaccine
was tested over a range of doses and administration intervals in an animal model. The vaccine
elicited a durable and robust immune response, one that significantly reduced both the duration of infection and the level of gonococcal
Dr Peter A. Rice, "This vaccine
is the most promising candidate developed in 40 years. From a public health perspective, even a decrease in burden and duration of infection can have profound effects on disease pathology and transmission. In addition, prevention represents an important goal in the development of a safe, economical and effective gonococcal vaccine
that can be used in resource limited areas where rates of gonorrhea
The team is planning more preclinical studies to proceed to actual human clinical trials so that US FDA approvals and other regulatory processes can be expedited to have the vaccine ready as fast as possible due to the dire global situation with regards to gonorrhea
cases increasing and drug resistance getting beyond control.
Reference: Sunita Gulati et al. Preclinical Efficacy of a Lipooligosaccharide Peptide Mimic Candidate Gonococcal Vaccine, mBio (2019). DOI: 10.1128/mBio.02552-19