Are We Close to the Development of Vaccines for Common STDs?

The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will award a massive sum of 41.6 million dollars that will be used to research and develop the first vaccines against the top three nationally-registrable sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

These funds will be provided over a five-year period to identify potential vaccines for chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis. Researchers will study the bacteria that cause the three STIs in order to begin the clinical testing of vaccines.

STD Research Moving Forward

New knowledge has been acquired over the past few years about the spread of STIs and the nature of the disease-causing agents.

This information can now be used for the development of safe and effective vaccines that can one day potentially eradicate the conditions altogether. The three diseases that the research is focusing on are of particular interest because of the high rate of such infections.

In the US alone, the rate of infections has registered a massive rise.

According to the CDC, nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis were registered in 2017. That’s an increase of over 200,000 cases in comparison to 2016 figures. Many factors have contributed to the rise of the infection rate and the biggest one is the less frequent use of condoms.

The increase has been substantial over the past five years, researchers report. In fact, such rates have not been observed over the past two decades. Recently, infections like syphilis became much more common among heterosexual couples and medical advances could be to blame.

Medical advances, like HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (HIV PEP) that blocks HIV infection if taken within 72 hours after exposure and HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (HIV PrEP) that is taken daily before potential exposure, have reduced the spread of HIV. Effective HIV treatments are also being developed. As people are becoming less concerned with this serious condition, the rate of condom use is starting to go down.

In just five years, the rate of new gonorrhoea diagnoses increased by 67 per cent. In addition, the number of antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhoea has also gone up. Syphilis diagnoses increased 76 per cent, which is especially troubling among women. Syphilis can have a major effect on developing foetuses during pregnancy, making the scientific community very alarmed.

Are STD Vaccines a Viable Option in the Near Future?

Currently, no vaccines are available to prevent chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea infections.

Chlamydia is the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection in the world and the one that researchers in the US will focus a lot of their efforts on. American universities will receive assistance from researchers in Europe and Australia, as well as a grant of 10.7 million dollars.

High risk patients will be enrolled in several studies, especially in the case of chlamydia that can go without symptoms for a very long period of time. Participants in the study will get STD testing and treatments with antibiotic to study the manner in which the immune response plays a role in controlling the infection. Upon the treatment, participants will be studied for re-infection and the collected samples will be examined to identify viable antibodies for the creation of vaccines.

Conditions like chlamydia are characterised by partial or even complete immunity after prolonged or repeated infections. This knowledge gives the researchers the foundation they require in order to move forward with vaccine development.

Similar clinical trials and antibody identification methodologies will be utilised for the development of vaccines for the other two common STDs – gonorrhoea and syphilis.

In Singapore, you can get reliable and effective STD testing and you should definitely do so if you are sexually active. We are a STD clinic in Singapore that offers such options and you should get yourself tested, whether you have symptoms or not. The sooner an STI is identified, the more effectively it can be treated.

Learn more about STD tests and treatments by visiting the Shim Clinic website or calling us at 6446-7446.