Mice receive long-term protection from Chagas disease vaccine in University of Texas study
Chagas disease is one of the most common tropical illnesses in Latin America. As of today, there is still no effective vaccine to prevent the spread of the illness.
Chagas disease begins with a mild acute phase before progressing to a dangerous chronic phase. During the latter phase, the parasites settle into the host’s stomach muscles and heart. Experts estimate that a third of people who contract Chagas disease develop digestive tract complications or serious heart disease, sometimes years later.
Health professionals hope for a vaccine to prevent the infection from transmitting at all, but so far scientists have only been able to develop a vaccine that stops the chronic phase complications.
The team of researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch, located in Galveston, Texas, previously demonstrated that a good candidate vaccine contains three specific parasite proteins. The scientists vaccinated the test mice and then infected them with T. cruzi, which reduced the number of parasites during the stage of acute infection. These mice showed no sign of muscle tissue inflammation, which was common in other mice that had not received the vaccine.
"The TcG2/TcG4 D/P vaccine provided long-term anti-T. cruzi T cell immunity, and booster immunization would be an effective strategy to maintain or enhance the vaccine-induced protective immunity against T. cruzi infection and Chagas disease,” the research team said.