A new Lyme disease vaccine has been shown “safe & effective” in phase 2 clinical trials! There is finally hope for a Lyme disease vaccine

French biotech company Valneva has recently announced that its first Phase 2 clinical trial for a vaccine against Lyme disease is both safe and effective, giving much needed hope for a future free from this destructive disease; Valneva’s is the only active clinical trial for a Lyme disease vaccine.

Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria B. burgdorferi ; there are six common serotypes (strains) which are most prevalent in Europe and North America. The new vaccine works by triggering the body’s immune system to produce antibodies for these six serotypes. It does this by introducing an isolated protein of the pathogen to the body, allowing the immune system to recognise and respond to the outer surface proteins found on the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease - B. burgdorferi.

During the trial, healthy adults in North America and Europe were given one of two dose levels of the vaccine, while a control group were given a placebo. Both the groups that received the active dose were found to have produced good amounts of antibodies against the six most prevalent Outer Surface Protein A serotypes of B. Burgdorferi.

The disease affects over 65,000 people in Europe every year and over 350,000 in the US; although it can be effectively treated with antibiotics if caught very early, it is extremely hard to diagnose and if often mis-diagnosed resulting in a delay in appropriate treatment; if left untreated it causes an extremely unpleasant illness that cannot be treated involving symptoms such as muscle pain, nerve pain, chronic tiredness, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, and severe headaches.

Development of the new vaccine, named VLA15, is being supported by a multi-million cash injection by pharma giant Pfizer; even so, vaccine trials are notoriously long and arduous, and it could still be years before the drug is available on the market. It does, however, bring new hope of eradicating Lyme disease in the future.

Find out how to protect yourself from ticks, and thus lyme disease, here!

Read all about our hunting writer Tim Pilbeam’s own experience of living with lyme disease: part 1 here, part 2 here