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New mRNA anti-tick vaccine may protect from more than just Lyme disease

Date: 17.11.2021 

A new study is reporting the development of a novel mRNA-based vaccine designed to help resist tick bites. Preclinical tests in guinea pigs indicate the vaccine aids the immune system in recognizing tick bites, resulting in the parasites being dislodged before they can transmit any pathogenic disease.

Kredit: ARS / USDA / Wikimedia Commons.Over fight off infection a dozen diseases can be transmitted by tick bites. The most well-known is Lyme disease, caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. In the past, vaccines have successfully been developed to specifically target this Lyme disease bacterium. However, this new vaccine candidate takes a different approach, using mRNA technology to target the tick itself.

The vaccine is based on the same mRNA technology that led to the extraordinarily successful rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines in 2020. But instead of directing cells in the body to produce spike proteins to train the body to attack SARS-CoV-2, this particular vaccine directs cells to produce a number of proteins found in the saliva of the black-legged tick Ixodes scapularis.

Dubbed 19ISP, the mRNA vaccine contains instructions for 19 different proteins found in the tick saliva. The preclinical research successfully demonstrated the mRNA vaccine on a number of guinea pigs.

“We found that guinea pigs vaccinated with 19ISP developed skin redness after they were bitten, indicating that their immune system was activated and recruited inflammatory cells to the site to,” explains Andaleeb Sajid, co-first author on the study. “Like other animals that developed tick immunity after repeated bites, the ticks were unable to feed on the guinea pigs and quickly detached.”





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