Researchers at San Antonio's South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (STCEID) and at San Antonio Health Science Center (UTHSC) have come together in a combined effort to discover a vaccine that will prevent Chlamydia.
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis, which can damage a woman's reproductive organs. Since in women, symptoms are usually mild or absent, serious complications can cause irreversible damage, including infertility, before a woman even recognizes a problem.
The most recent report from the CDC indicates 930,000 cases of Chlamydial infection in the United States in 2004. The number of new cases of Chlamydia infection reported annually has risen to more than 2.8 million.
After three years of research, Ashlesh Murthy, a post-doctoral student in the UTSA Cell and Molecular Biology program has succeeded in obtaining a chlamydial prevention vaccine in mouse models. The next step will be to test the vaccine in larger animals, primarily guinea pigs.
Murthy said, 'When Chlamydia is left untreated, it can lead to severe complications including pelvic-inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancies and infertility.'
Bernard Arulanandam, an associate professor of biology who began studying Chlamydia six years ago, guides Murthy's research.
'With the recent success of the human papilloma virus vaccine, developed to prevent cervical cancer in young women, I think the urgency to develop a Chlamydia prevention vaccine is on the horizon,' said Arulanandam. The UTSA researchers have been working with Guangming Zhong, a professor of microbiology at UTHSC, whose lab has been identifying antigens or proteins in Chlamydia as vaccine material and providing them for the UTSA researchers to test for efficacy.