Utpal Pal, PhD, professor in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Maryland (UMD) will be partnering with Matthias Schnell, director of the Jefferson Vaccine Center at Thomas Jefferson University to develop a novel “next-generation” Lyme disease vaccine.
Pal, a tick immunobiologist, and Schnell, whose lab studies rabies virus as a platform for vaccination, will adapt the rabies virus platform to fight Lyme disease. The inactivated rabies virus, which helps the body produce antibodies to fight rabies, will be repurposed to produce other types of proteins that can fight Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease bacteria, a technique found effective for other viral vaccinations.
This study will test the four already identified vaccine candidate proteins, as well as the three major types of rabies vaccine platforms– using live attenuated virus, inactivated virus, and the shell of a virus with viral proteins on the outside but no virus inside to trick the body. Pal is also studying both Borrelia proteins and the tick proteins that keep the Borrelia alive so it can be tramsmitted to humans.
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Based on the track records of Lyme vaccines, Project Lyme will monitor the studies progress closely for safety and efficacy.