University of Victoria Leads Research on Vaccine for Resurging Ancient, Deadly Virus

Microbiologists and researchers from around the world are coming together at the University of Victoria to work on developing a vaccine for syphilis.

Despite the fact that syphilis can be treated with penicillin, the number of cases in Canada and the United States has been on the rise, as noted by University of Victoria microbiologist Caroline Cameron.

Syphilis is considered one of the oldest diseases, with its origins dating back to around 3000 BCE. In 2020, Canada reported 9,000 new cases of the disease.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of syphilis cases globally, prompting Cameron and her team to focus on creating a vaccine to combat both infectious and congenital syphilis. They are working on developing a hybrid protein that can potentially prevent the spread of the disease.

Cameron emphasized that finding a solution will not be as simple as targeting a single protein, but rather a combination of proteins will be needed to effectively tackle the disease.

While syphilis can be treated with antibiotics like penicillin, diagnosing the disease is not always straightforward. This is why the research team is looking to create a preventive vaccine for syphilis.

The project has received a significant amount of funding, with $7.8 million coming from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health in the US.

The University of Victoria, under the leadership of Cameron, is spearheading the research efforts, with researchers from Duke and Washington Universities also joining in 20 teams of 20 people each to work on this important project.