Scientists set their sights on a new syphilis vaccine

A team led by Juan Salazar, Chair of Pediatrics at University of Connecticut Health (CT, USA), have systematically investigated the genetic code of the syphilis bacterium, Treponema pallidum, to identify characteristic surface membrane proteins. These proteins can be used to stimulate an immune response, allowing our immune systems to target T. pallidum bacteria.

Researchers hope that this work could lead to the development of a syphilis vaccine, which has remained unobtainable for over 100 years.

The sexually transmitted infection (STI) syphilis is on the rise, with the WHO estimating approximately 5.6 million cases each year. The disease is now one of the major causes of stillbirth and miscarriage, and can cause major neurological problems, if allowed to progress.

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