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University of Victoria to research vaccine for resurging ancient, deadly virus

In 2020, Canada recorded 9,000 new cases of syphilis
University of Victoria microbiologist Caroline Cameron is leading research into developing a syphilis vaccine.

Microbiologists and international researchers are assembling at the University of Victoria to develop a vaccine for syphilis. 

Despite the virus being treatable with penicillin, cases around Canada and the United States have continued to climb, said University of Victoria microbiologist Caroline Cameron.
According to the National Library of Medicine, syphilis is one of the oldest diseases, dating back to around 3000 BCE. In 2020, the last year data was available, Canada recorded 9,000 new cases. 

In recent years, the disease has been resurgence, as millions of cases are found worldwide. 

Cameron and her team use the only lab in Canada studying the ancient virus to engineer a hybrid protein to prevent infectious and congenital syphilis.

"We know it’s not going to be one protein that’s the magic target,” she said. “It’ll be more than one.” 

Looking for a vaccine to the future for the disease as, while penicillin and other antibiotics can treat it, diagnosis is not always straightforward.  

The project received $7.8 million in funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health in the US.

Cameron and the University of Victoria are the lead investigators and institutions, but researchers from Duke and Washington Universities will also participate in 20 20-person teams.

About the Author: Thomas Eley

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