Promising new vaccine to fight sleeping sickness in Africa


FIG. 1: Candidate V23 (IFX) induces protective immunity in a mouse model of T. vivax infection. From: An invariant Trypanosoma vivax vaccine antigen induces protective immunity

Scientists have identified a promising candidate vaccine for a parasitic disease that causes chronic disease in livestock in sub-Saharan Africa.

The disease, called Nagana, threatens the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on animals for milk, food and electricity.

The research, from York University and the Wellcome Sanger Institute, is expected to help alleviate the socio-economic hardships of people living in some of the world’s most disadvantaged regions.


The disease is caused by trypanosomes: transmitted by insects who live in the blood who — in humans — are responsible for one called African sleeping sickness.

Millions of people living in sub-Saharan countries are at risk for trypanosome infections and the economic impact of livestock disease is huge, with about three million cattle dying each year and costing billions of dollars in productivity. .

Trypanosomes have developed sophisticated protective mechanisms that allow them to thrive in the blood and have so far presented a barrier to developing vaccines, which would be an important tool to control these diseases.

The researchers identified one which can cause sterile immunity against T. vivax, one of the parasites of the trypanosome responsible for nagana.


The researchers used an approach called “reverse vaccination” to find potential new vaccines.

Professor Gavin Wright, of the Department of Biology and the York Institute for Biomedical Research, said: “Vaccination against trypanosomes has long been considered a low-value option to deal with this terrible which affects the lives and livelihoods of people living in some of the poorest regions of the planet. Due to its protective molecular armory, the development of a against these parasites he seemed to be trying to stop a tank with a pistol.

“Our discovery identifies a candidate vaccine for an important person this has restricted the socio-economic development of sub-Saharan African countries and provides evidence that highly protective vaccines against trypanosome infections can be achieved. “


The research was in collaboration with Dr Andrew Jackson of the University of Liverpool.

Dr Jackson said: “Parasite vaccines are notoriously difficult to produce. For 40 years, researchers have used a trial and error approach to look for vaccine candidates to protect against infection, but there are thousands of possibilities.

“The real strength of this research is its reverse vaccination method. It takes into account all the options and refinements of protective antigens, eliminating the luck of the search. The discovery of this vaccine candidate is a fantastic breakthrough. , which removes the background obstacle to progress and will fundamentally change our approach to preventing livestock trypanosomiasis. ”

The sex cells of the parasites are doing their thing

More information:
Delphine Autheman et al, an invariant Trypanosoma vivax vaccine antigen induces protective immunity, Nature (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-021-03597-x

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York University

Citation: Promising new vaccine to fight sleeping sickness in Africa (2021, May 27) recovered on May 27, 2021 at .html

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