Cornell and Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research scientists have developed a way to produce a protein antigen that may be useful as vaccine for schistosomiasis – a parasitic disease that infects millions of people, mostly in tropical and subtropical climates – according to new research in the journal Protein Expression and Purification, June 2017.

Schistosoma haemotobium egg Image/CDC
Schistosoma haemotobium egg

If clinical trials succeed, this vaccine may lead to a substantial decrease in the global number of schistosomiasis cases, which rank second only to malaria. The vaccine may have the added benefit of potentially reducing the incidence of bladder cancer.

Carl Batt, Cornell’s Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor in Food Science, and colleagues Leonardo Damasceno, Ph.D. ’08, of the Hertape Animal Health group in Brazil, and Gerd Ritter, of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, established and refined the production of the antigen Sm14, using a microbial host. Sm14 holds promise to stimulate an immune response in humans, serving as a potential preventative vaccine for schistosomiasis.

“There is an association between parasitic infections and the occurrence of subsequent cancers. Schistosomiasis is not only a chronic disease but infected individuals have an enhanced propensity to get bladder cancer,” said Batt. “If you immunize people with an antigen that induces an immune response against schistosomiasis, there will likely be benefits not only in controlling the immediate infection but also a means to avoid bladder cancer.”

Read more at Cornell

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