The first vaccine against hookworm has been shown to be safe in clinical trials in Brazil, according to researchers from the Sabin Vaccine Institute Product Development Partnership who led the trial.
The vaccine—which was developed by the HOOKVAC consortium—was well tolerated by 102 healthy volunteers, and blood tests indicated they developed an immune response.
Hookworms are parasites that infect more than 600 million people globally by attaching themselves to a host’s intestines and feeding off his or her blood. Hookworm infections can leads to conditions such as iron deficiency and capillary damage, as well as impede a child’s mental development and growth.
Researchers hope that a vaccine will serve as an alternative way to handle repeat hookworm infections. Although drugs do exist to kill the hookworms, individuals are often re-infected through contaminated water. An effective vaccine could both treat existing infections and provide lasting immunity against reinfection.
“A vaccine able to induce long-lasting immunity, which could be incorporated into existing vaccination programmes in countries like Brazil, would provide a sustainable solution to the problem of hookworm,” said David Diemert, director of clinical trials at Sabin.
Diemert says it could be several years until the vaccine has undergone the necessary tests to be approved for use, but hopes the vaccine will be available and licensed by 2020.
To read more about the hookworm vaccine trial, click here.