Scientists Are Coming Up With A Chlamydia Vaccine

Photographed by Meg O'Donnell.
There are so many things to worry about these days, and getting chlamydia is one of them. But scientists are doing their best to take that worry off our plates for good, as they develop a vaccine for the infection. Researchers say they saw success in an early trial of a vaccine for the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the world.
Although it’s still early days, it was shown to be successful and safe in a randomised, controlled test of 35 women, according to a study The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal. The researchers who worked on the study, from Statens Serum Institut, Denmark, and Imperial College London, UK, noted the women in the trial had a positive immune response, and didn’t suffer serious side effects.
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One of the study’s authors, Robin Shattock, a professor in the department of infectious disease at Imperial said in a statement that the findings were encouraging, but there was still more to be done. "The next step is to take the vaccine forward to further trials, but until that's done, we won't know whether it is truly protective or not,” Shattock said.
There are 131 million new cases of chlamydia every year worldwide, Imperial College London reports in a release about the study. They note that number could be on the low side, because many cases are symptomless and go undetected. Although treatments are already available for chlamydia, the press release notes that antibiotics and national treatment programs haven’t been able to effectively fight the number of chlamydia cases reported every year on a global scale.
“The major issue with chlamydia is the long-term consequences,” Professor Shattock said. “It is very treatable if identified, but, as many people don’t have symptoms, it can be missed.” Shattock noted that it can contribute to issues with fertility, along with other risks. Symptoms of chlamydia include painful urination, lower abdominal pain, and vaginal discharge, according to Mayo Clinic.
“One of the problems we see with current efforts to treat chlamydia is that despite a very big screening, test and treat program, people get repeatedly re-infected. If you could introduce a protective vaccine, you could break that cycle," Shattock added.
This information about the trial is an exciting new frontier, but we still don't have a mass market vaccine yet. In the meantime, remember to confirm with your health care provider at your next check-up that you're being screened for chlamydia yearly if you think you could be at risk for infection, as the CDC recommends.
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