UNC researchers have been working with colleagues throughout the world to develop a chlamydia vaccine along with several other STD vaccines.
The National Institute of Health has provided the University of North Carolina, as well as three cooperative research centers, with funding to research and make these vaccines.
The principal investigator for the Chlamydia Vaccine Initiative STI CRC will be Dr. Toni Darville, who is chief of the UNC Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and a highly-recognized pediatrics, microbiology and immunology professor at the UNC School of Medicine.
Darville said a chlamydia infection causes chronic pelvic pain and infertility in women, and it’s also been tied to an increase in ovarian cancer. She said since chlamydia has little to no symptoms for 90 percent of both genders, it’s got a high rate of transmission and infection. People have no idea, she said, that they are infected, which is why it’s so important to develop a vaccine.
Darville said women who have it often find out they’re infertile.
UNC is working with researchers in Australia and Europe, as they get $10.7 million in funding from NIH over the next five years.
Darville’s team has divided the research into three parts:
- In the first part, University of Pittsburg researchers will look at study candidate vaccine antigens originally noted in the TRAC project.
- In the second part, animals will be given the chlamydia vaccine.
- In the third part, the researchers will try to find non-invasive biomarkers that determine an acutely infected woman’s risk of upper genital tract infection and come up with a risk for the repeated infection.
The UNC is also working with the University of Connecticut to develop a syphilis vaccine as well as the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda to develop a gonorrhea vaccine.