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SLU Researchers Begin Enrolling Participants in Yellow Fever Vaccine Clinical Trial

07/21/2021Media Inquiries

Carrie Bebermeyer
Public Relations Director
carrie.bebermeyer@slu.edu
314-977-8015

Reserved for members of the media.

Saint Louis University’s Center for Vaccine Development is studying an investigational vaccine for yellow fever, a potentially deadly disease that is spread by mosquitoes. The research is funded by Sanofi Pasteur.

Researcher Sarah George, M.D.

Sarah George, M.D., associate professor of infectious diseases at SLU and principal investigator for the clinical trial.  

Yellow fever is among a family of flaviviruses that include Zika, dengue, West Nile virus and Japanese encephalitis.  Zika, dengue, and Yellow Fever are spread by Aedes mosquitoes. Concerned about recent outbreaks of yellow fever in Africa and South America, Sanofi is developing a new yellow fever vaccine.

A new vaccine for yellow fever is needed because the current vaccine is not safe in people with egg allergies and because Aedes mosquitoes are spreading rapidly, according to Sarah George, M.D., associate professor of infectious diseases at SLU and principal investigator for the clinical trial.  Yellow fever vaccination is required for travelers and military personnel going to countries where the yellow fever virus is present.

About 600 million doses of the current vaccine have been given, providing immunity to yellow fever for life, George said.

George will study whether a new type of vaccine, which is made without using eggs or animal products, stimulates the body’s defense system to protect against yellow fever. Her study will test the safety of the vaccine as well as immune responses of groups of volunteers who are given the investigational vaccine and the current yellow fever vaccine.

The phase 2 clinical trial is being conducted at 10 sites in the U.S., including Saint Louis University. Researchers are recruiting around 60 healthy men and women between 18 and 60 years of age at each site for a total of 570 for the study, which will last 5 years.

Endemic in Africa and South America, yellow fever annually infects about 200,000 people, causing symptoms that include fever, back pain, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and weakness.

Most people recover but about 15 percent of those infected become severely ill with jaundice, bleeding and shock. Of those who develop severe disease, between 20 and 50 percent are at risk of death, with as many as 60,000 people dying each year.

“Yellow fever is a nasty disease and can kill you,” George said. “It’s truly miserable, and we need a vaccine that can protect more people.”

To learn more about vaccine research being conducted at Saint Louis University, call 314-977-6333 or email vaccine@slu.edu. 

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: infectious disease, liver disease, cancer, heart/lung disease, and aging and brain disorders.