Lyme Disease Vaccine Candidate Tested in Sweden

VLA15 is a multivalent recombinant protein Lyme disease vaccine candidate
Sweden hiking
by Sanna from Pixabay
Sweden (Precision Vaccinations News)

A Professor of applied health technology at Blekinge Institute of Technology recently confirmed a Lyme disease vaccine candidate is being tested in Sweden.

Johan Sanmartin Berglund leads the Swedish part of phase 3 clinical study evaluating VLA15, a multivalent recombinant protein vaccine candidate targeting the outer surface protein A of Borrelia.

This innovative vaccine is designed for prophylactic, active immunization to protect people against most human pathogenic Borrelia species. 

This is important news since over 10,000 people contract Lyme disease in Sweden, and the Blekinge region is known for having a high number of cases.

The risk of contracting a tickborne infection is determined by the number of ticks in an area, the proportion of those carrying the bacteria, and human behavior, such as walking in tick-infested fields.

A recent review showed substantial variability in reported Lyme disease incidence across and within European countries, with the highest incidences reported from the Eastern, Northern (Baltic states and Nordic countries), and Western Europe surveillance systems. 

A previous study found the overall risk of developing Lyme borreliosis after a tick bite was 2.6% (95%CI 1.4–5.1).

In 1977, the first Lyme arthritis cases were described, and the Ixodes scapularis (black-legged) tick was linked to the disease transmission in Lyme, Connecticut.

A recent estimate based on insurance records suggests that approximately 476,000 people in the U.S. are treated for Lyme disease annually.

"It is difficult to produce a Lyme disease vaccine because the bacteria exist in many variants. In the preliminary study, we mapped which types of Lyme disease are found in Europe and which the vaccine needs to cover", commented Johan Sanmartin Berglund in a press release on May 24, 2023.

As of June 10, 2023, VLA15 is the only Lyme disease vaccine candidate currently in advanced clinical development.

Over 15,000 people are included in the clinical study, which has been underway for over a year, and it is time for the test persons to receive their third dose of vaccine.

"The vaccination study must last over at least two tick seasons. After that, it will take a few more years before the vaccine is approved and available in Europe. I estimate a new vaccine may be (commercially) available in 2026," concludes Johan Sanmartin Berglund.

Initially developed by France-based Valneva SE, the VLA15 vaccine candidate is an alum-adjuvanted formulation administered intramuscularly.

Valneva and New York-based Pfizer, Inc. announced a development and commercialization collaboration for VLA15 in April 2020. Pfizer currently leads the late-stage development and is controlling the vaccine's commercialization.

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