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'Combination' Lyme disease vaccine proteins patented

he bacteria while they are in the cold-blooded deer ticks stomach, and not in the host. After the tick bites a warm-blooded mammalian host, the injected bacteria produce OspC on their surface.

With the aim of developing a vaccine that would trigger an immune response against both these life cycle stages, Dunn's team used methods of recombinant DNA to create new proteins that combine the most immunogenic portions of OspA and OspC that is, the regions of the two proteins that are most likely to trigger an immune response.

The researchers have demonstrated that the new combination proteins retain the ability to trigger an immune response to at least one or both of the antigens, and can trigger the production of antibodies that inhibit growth of and/or kill Borrelia bacteria in laboratory cultures. They've also shown that the chimeric proteins can be mass-produced in E. coli bacteria, a common laboratory technique for making proteins, and easily purified for possible use in vaccines or diagnostic assays.

"This could lead to a vaccine that is effective at different stages of the organisms life cycle," said Dunn. Moreover, by incorporating unique protein fragments from various pathogenic families of Borrelia, these chimeric proteins could be used to distinguish clinically important exposure to disease-causing Borrelia from exposures to other non-pathogenic families of Borrelia.

The patent covers the development of the chimeric proteins themselves, the nucleic acids (genetic material) used to generate the proteins, the methods used to make the proteins, the methods used to deliver either the proteins or nucleic acids, the use of the proteins in diagnostic assays or kits, and their use in animals and humans as vaccines against Lyme disease.


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Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh
kmcnulty@bnl.gov
631-344-8350
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
9-Apr-2007


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