ST.LOUIS -- Researchers at Saint Louis University's Center for Vaccine Development are studying whether an investigational vaccine can protect people from tularemia, commonly known as rabbit fever, which is an illness that strikes people and animals.
|Sharon Frey, M.D.|
"There is currently no licensed vaccine to prevent infection and disease from tularemia in people," said Sharon Frey, M.D., professor of infectious diseases and clinical director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Saint Louis University. "A vaccine may protect people from the disease or may result in a milder disease and fewer complications."
Caused by a bacteria found in rodents, rabbits and hares, tularemia typically is spread after exposure to a sick animal through bites by infected ticks, deerflies or other insects; by drinking water or eating contaminated food; or by breathing dust from soil or animal pelts that are infected. It is not spread through person-to-person contact. Tularemia also is considered to be a biological weapon threat.
Study participants will receive one of two investigational vaccinations. One is currently used by the U.S. Army under an investigational clinical protocol administered by the Department of Defense. The other is made from the same seed lot as the one used by the Army.
Both investigational vaccines are given using a process called scarification, which involves a drop of the vaccine being put on the skin by a needle, then the skin being pricked a number of times so the vaccine can enter the body.
"Since the vaccine currently used by the Army is getting old, another vaccine is being developed as a replacement," said Frey, who is principal investigator of the trial at SLU.
Researchers are assessing the ability of the two tularemia vaccines to cause the body to develop an immune response. They also hope to learn more about potential side effects.
About 220 healthy adults are sought for the national study, which is being conducted at five sites. Saint Louis University, one of the Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEUs) funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) that is studying the investigational vaccines, is recruiting up to 50 volunteers for the research, which will take about six months.
Tularemia can cause fever, fatigue, headaches and joint and muscle pain. Other symptoms of the illness vary with the type of exposure to the bacteria. For instance, exposure through the skin can cause skin sores and swollen lymph nodes. Exposure through the eyes can cause redness, swelling and drainage from the eyes. Exposure by eating contaminated food can cause a sore throat. Exposure by breathing in the bacteria or to blood containing the bacteria can cause pneumonia. Most infections can be treated with antibiotics.
On the forefront of research in fighting and preventing infectious diseases, Saint Louis University has received federal funding as a Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit for two decades. The Saint Louis University VTEU evaluates investigational vaccines for diseases such as influenza and novel ways of delivering those vaccines.
Please visit the ClinicalTrials.gov website for more information on this study.
To learn more about the vaccine research being conducted at Saint Louis University, call (314) 977-6333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.