Scientists from the McMaster University, Canada, have successfully development a vaccine prototype for treating chlamydia. Chlamydia qualifies as one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STI), largely affecting young people. In a trial conducted on mice model, the scientists found that the vaccine was effective.

In this pre-clinical experiment, experts from MG DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and St Joseph’s Healthcare also collaborated with the experts of McMaster University. The findings of this significant study were also published in the journal Vaccine.

Dr David Bulir, co-author of the study and PhD graduate from McMaster University, said, “Vaccination would be the best way to prevent a chlamydia infection, and this study has identified important new antigens which could be used as part of a vaccine to prevent or eliminate the damaging reproductive consequences of untreated infections.”

Every year, 3 million new cases of chlamydia arise and 7 out of 10 cases occur in sexually active young people at an average age of 25 years.

Caused by a bacterial strain, chlamydia trachomatis, the disease can transmit from an affected person to the other through the contact of infected genetic fluid. A person can often come in contact with the infected semen or vaginal fluid during, anal, oral or vaginal sex. Sharing unwashed sex toys or making contact with infected genital fluid otherwise can also spread the disease.

The Canadian researchers, who have pioneered a vaccine formulation against the disease, administered the vaccine through nasal spray in mice. After the mice were given the vaccine, they were infected with the bacterial strain of chlamydia. With a careful examination, it was observed that the bacterial strains did not multiple at the usual rate and the spread of the bacteria did not reach the fallopian tubes to cause serious damage. In this context, the chlamydia shedding was reduced by 95% and the fallopian tube blockage was reduced by a significant 87.5%.

This vaccination will help prevent people from contracting the bacteria in the first place and if they eventually are infected by the strain, the bacteria will clear out of their system without causing any long-lasting damage to their health. However, until now, the use of condoms during sex has been termed as the most effective way to contain the infection from spreading.

This vaccine makes use of the novel chlamydia antigen which is named as BD584. This antigen, when injected into the system, mimics the antigenic activity of chlamydia trachomatis and the body begins to produce anti-BSD584 antibodies to attack the intruder. While the attenuated stain of the bacteria or antigen cause no harm to the body, it is enough to trigger the body’s immune system. Once the B cells of the body begin to produce antibodies against the antigen, they are able to store in the body in the form of memory cells. After the body is exposed to the bacteria after sexual contact with infected person, the acquired immunity activates memory B cells and the antibodies are produced against the bacteria before it begins to cause damage to the body.

In addition to this, the vaccine was found to be effective against other chlamydia strains that could lead to eye infection (trachoma) which has a potential to cause blindness in severe cases.

Although the disease can easily be treated through the use of antibiotics, if it remains untreated the infection can lead to serious problems. In such situations, the infection can spread in different parts of the body and cause inflammation. Amongst the most commonly observed long-term health problems, infertility in women, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), inflammation of testicles and reactive arthritis can take place.

Usually a week long use of antibiotics is prescribed to the person who is found positive. When sexually active people who have comdomless sex start to feel pain while urinating, have unusual discharge from the vagina or penis, women experiencing pain in belly, irregular periods, bleeding during or after sex, and men have pain or swelling in the testicles, they should go to the nearest clinic to get themselves tested.

It is worth noting that people who are carriers of the infection do not always show symptoms due to which they tend to spread the disease to their sexual partners.

Studies have been carried out for decades to effectively cure patients of chlamydia but due to high drug resistance of the stain, the efforts were rendered useless. With this successful animal-model trial, there is a high probability for this non-invasive nasal vaccine to prove effective in humans and subsequently hit the market to be used by the masses around the world.