A France-based laboratory will test a vaccine for the treatment of Lyme disease in humans after proving its effectiveness in animals. Researchers hope to be able to use it commercially by 2025.
Lyme disease may soon cease to bother the approximately 30,000 Americans affected each year. In Nantes France, the Valneva laboratory, which has been working on the development of a vaccine for 10 years, has just entered the second phase of research after proving its efficacy on animals. Tick-borne Lyme disease, another name for the disease, causes fever, fatigue, joint pain, and can even cause heart damage. It is usually caught in forests and wetlands, often during walks.
An agreement with Pfizer
The efficacy of the candidate vaccine against Lyme disease should be tested in humans, in about 800 people. “The substance we are going to introduce in the vaccine already exists,” explains Fabien Perugi, head of the pre-clinical research. We are currently at the clinical development stage. Everything has been tested on animals. Today we are testing its effectiveness on humans. It’s a very important phase, we measure its effectiveness and adjust the dosage. The goal is to enter phase 3, where we can test this vaccine on a larger population.
The vaccine is being tested simultaneously in the United States and in Europe because the bacteria are not the same on both continents. With this in mind and the start of Phase 3 clinical trials with a sample of about 16,000 people, an agreement was signed between Valneva and the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. “We needed a partner,” admits Franck Grimaud, CEO of Valneva. A few weeks ago we announced an agreement with Pfizer, one of the world’s four largest vaccine manufacturers, with whom we will do Phase 3 trials and who will take over global marketing. This agreement will earn us $130 million in advance payments, $200 million in subsequent payments, and 19% in royalties. The estimated sales of this vaccine are over $1 billion”.
Available to use by 2025
A first vaccine, developed by another laboratory, was launched on the market in the early 2000s, but it has not yet proved fully effective. “The previous vaccine only protected against two types of this disease,” confirms Fabien Perugi. It was stopped. The vaccine we are developing is universal and will protect against all six major types of the disease. We will be able to distribute it all over the world”.
Valneva hopes to have the Lyme disease vaccine on the market by 2025. Before the vaccine arrives, preventative measures can be taken to reduce the risk of tick bites that can lead to Lyme disease. In risk areas such as forests and wetlands, it is best to wear long clothing and a cap, wear tick repellent and do a visual check after, particularly in the knee pit (fossa popliteal), under the armpits, head, and ears.