FAIRMED participating in leprosy vaccine study
The first human tests for a new leprosy vaccine have been underway since mid-October as part of a broader clinical trial. In view of the enormous potential of the vaccine, FAIRMED has agreed to support the study with a financial contribution.
If the currently tested vaccine fulfils expectations, the goal of eliminating leprosy could become a reality in just a few years. «A vaccine could prevent a great deal of suffering in the future, » says FAIRMED Managing Director, René Stäheli. In an initial phase, the vaccine will be tested for safety in volunteers in the US. If the vaccine proves safe, subsequent phases will concentrate on testing for effectiveness in humans.
Leprosy is one of the oldest diseases in human history. Today, the infectious disease occurs above all in the world’s poorest areas und is classified by the WHO as one of twenty Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). Every year more than 200,000 people worldwide are newly diagnosed with Leprosy. If these people are not promptly diagnosed and treated, they will go on to suffer nerve damage that eventually causes severe disabilities. The treatment used to date, the so-called multidrug therapy, is a combination therapy consisting of various antibiotics. The treatment is relatively lengthy and there are numerous side effects that can cause further nerve damage.
Thanks to novel vaccine technologies, researchers have succeeded in preventing the spread of leprosy bacteria in previously infected individuals. This significant progress is the result of years of research work by the American Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (IDRI) and the investments made by the non-governmental organisation American Leprosy Mission. Alongside, alliances between organisations such as the LPEP programme and the ILEP, which also includes FAIRMED, have taken on the fight against leprosy and are developing strategies to prevent the spread of the disease and to eradicate the disease completely.
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