NEW YORK (CBS Newspath) – Lyme Disease is the most common tickborne disease in the United States, and cases are increasing. Now, researchers are looking for volunteers in the U.S. and Europe to test a new vaccine to prevent Lyme.
When Robert Terwilliger heard about a study testing a vaccine for Lyme disease, he rolled up his sleeve. He enjoys hunting and hiking.
“I’m hoping it works. This way, I won’t have no worries. You know, I go out in the woods and enjoy myself. And if I find a tick on me, okay, I’m good. I don’t have to worry about anything, you know, because it’s always a worry,” he said.
U.S.-based Pfizer and a French biotech company developed the experimental vaccine known as VLA 15, which aims to block a tick from transmitting the infection when it bites.
Pfizer vaccine chief Annaliesa Anderson said, “It’s a vaccine that’s designed to prevent Lyme disease caused by the six most common types of Lyme bacteria in both the US and Europe.”
Deer ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue. For some, the first sign is a red, round bullseye rash. Infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system if not treated. CDC estimates suggest about 476,000 people get Lyme disease each year in the U.S.
Researchers hope to enroll at least 6,000 people in areas where Lyme disease is common, such as the Northeast. Volunteers can be as young as 5 years old.
Dr. Alan Kivitz with Altoona Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center and the Altoona Center for Clinical Research said, “Ever since we learned of this trial several months ago, we’ve had people on a waiting list waiting to be notified. So absolutely, we have people who are interested.”
In earlier studies, the companies reported a good immune response and no problems with safety. The next phase will test if the vaccine is effective and safe.
Participants will receive three doses between now and next spring, and then a booster a year later.