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Chancroid Vaccine Holds Promise In Reducing HIV Transmission

hesize heme, the ferrous, or iron-containing, component of hemoglobin, and obtain it from host hemoglobin.

The researchers found that immunizing swine with a purified hemoglobin receptor protected the animals from a challenge infection, even after multiple attempts at infection.

Blood tests showed that the immunized pigs formed antibodies that prevented the chancroid bacteria from binding hemoglobin and, hence, obtaining the heme it needs to survive, the authors said.

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 undergra
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