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University and health science center in San Antonio collaborate to find chlamydia vaccine

UTSA/UTHSC successful in mouse models and now move to guinea pigs

It's the most common bacteria-related sexually transmitted disease in the United States, so researchers at The University of Texas at San Antonio's South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (STCEID) and The University of Texas at San Antonio Health Science Center have partnered to discover a vaccine that will prevent Chlamydia.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis, which can damage a woman's reproductive organs. In women, symptoms are usually mild or absent. Serious complications can cause irreversible damage, including infertility, before a woman ever recognizes a problem. In men, Chlamydia complications can also cause discharge from the penis of an infected male.

The most recent report from the CDC indicates 930,000 cases of Chlamydial infection were reported in the United States in 2004. It's estimated annually, that the number of new cases of Chlamydia infection has risen to more than 2.8 million.

After three years of trial-and-error, Ashlesh Murthy, a post-doctoral student in the UTSA Cell and Molecular Biology program has found success in administering a chlamydial prevention vaccine in mouse models. The next step will be to test the vaccine in larger animals, primarily guinea pigs.

"This is a very prevalent disease in women throughout the world and the biggest problem is that most infected women never show any symptoms, so they never get treated," said Murthy. "When Chlamydia is left untreated, it can lead to severe complications including pelvic-inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancies and infertility."

Murthy's research is guided by Bernard Arulanandam, an associate professor of biology who began studying Chlamydia six years ago.

"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 candidates and providing them for the UTSA researchers to analyze for their efficacy.

Kris Edward Rodriguez | EurekAlert!
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