Developing a Vaccine for Syphilis: A B.C. Researcher Leads the Way

Syphilis cases are on the rise globally, with millions of new cases reported each year. In response to this concerning trend, a team of researchers led by University of Victoria microbiologist Caroline Cameron is working on developing a vaccine for syphilis. The vaccine is being developed using a new chain of amino acids that consist of portions of multiple proteins from the bacterium Treponema pallidum.

If left untreated, syphilis can cause severe damage to various organs in the body and can even lead to death. Congenital syphilis, which occurs when the infection is passed from mother to child during pregnancy, is a particularly dangerous infection that can be life-threatening for infants.

Despite being treatable with penicillin, syphilis cases have continued to increase in Canada, with 9,000 new cases reported in 2020. In the U.S., there has been a 10-fold increase in the number of babies born with congenital syphilis over the past decade, leading to a significant number of stillbirths and infant deaths.

Caroline Cameron is the lead principal investigator of the research team, which also includes co-PI Lorenzo Giacani at the University of Washington, as well as investigators from other institutions. The project is funded by US$7.8 million over five years with support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the U.S.

This groundbreaking research aims to combat the alarming increase in syphilis cases and ultimately develop a vaccine to prevent this dangerous infection.

Caroline Cameron is a microbiologist and researcher at the University of Victoria. She has dedicated her career to studying infectious diseases and developing vaccines to prevent them. Cameron’s work on syphilis research is at the forefront of efforts to combat the rise of this infection worldwide.