Trial set to begin on norovirus vaccine

This fall, researchers from the University of Rochester and Saint Louis University will use 90 volunteers each to test a new vaccine against the stomach illness causing norovirus.

Currently, there is no licensed vaccine to be used against norovirus, but LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals of Bozeman, Montana, the makers of the candidate vaccine, have enlisted the help of Dr. John Treanor to determine if their product produces a safe and effective immune response in humans, according to HealthCanal.com. Treanor is the chief of infectious disease at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

“Compared to diseases we already vaccinate against, norovirus infections are seldom fatal for most people,” Treanor told HealthCanal.com. “But the symptoms, which last a day or two, can be terribly uncomfortable and inconvenient – and there is always the risk of transmitting the virus to the more vulnerable members of our community.”

Noroviruses, which afflict 23 million Americans annually, come in more than six strains, known as serotypes, unlike influenza viruses that generally fall into cluster of a few dominant strains. The new vaccine aims to guard against the two most prevalent families of norovirus, which are the ones that produce the largest amounts of illness worldwide

It could take a great deal of time before the vaccine would be ready and licensed for use as the process is complex.

“So many questions remain,” Treanor said, HealthCanal.com reports. “One of the most pressing, assuming the shot is protective, is how long the immunity could last.”