In skin biopsies of the immunized animals, the researchers found no viable chancroid bacteria.
An HIV vaccine has been elusive in part because the virus constantly varies its surface molecules, making it an ever-changing target. But H. ducreyi, unlike other sexually transmitted bacteria, doesn't have such a protective mechanism.
The current study and other studies suggest that developing a chancroid vaccine would be a relatively simple task, Elkins said.
Commercial sex workers infected with chancroid form a "reservoir" of infection, Elkins said. A vaccine strategy of vaccinating female sex workers against chancroid could shut down the cycle of infection, eliminating the disease of not only sex workers but their sexual partners.
And evidence suggests that eliminating chancroid throughout Africa could help reduce the transmission of HIV.
"Diverting but a fraction of the effort on HIV potentially could rapidly lead to a chancroid vaccine. I believe it is imperative that international and U.S. agencies address this opportunity in a timely manner," Elkins said.
In addition to Afonina and Elkins, other UNC authors are postdoctoral research associate Dr. Isabelle Leduc and postdoctoral trainee Dr. Igor V Nepliouev, both of the Center for Infectious Diseases; Dr. Marcia Hobbs, research associate professor in the departments of medicine and microbiology and immunology; and Chrystina Jeter, former undergraduate research assistant in Elkin's lab.
Authors from N.C. State University's College of Veterinary Medicine are Patty Routh, research technician; Dr. Glen Almond, professor of population health and pathobiology; and Dr. Paul E. Orndorff, professor of population health and pathobiology and microbiology and immunology.
Elkins said that further development of the vaccine studied is needed, including perfecting ways to purify large amounts of
Contact: Leslie H. Lang
University of North Carolina School of Medicine