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On the Trail of a Vaccine for Lyme Disease: Yale Researchers Target Tick Saliva

A protein found in the saliva of ticks helps protect mice from developing Lyme disease, Yale researchers have discovered. The findings, published in the November 19 issue of Cell Host & Microbe, may spur development of a new vaccine against infection from Lyme disease, which is spread through tick bites.

Traditionally, vaccines have directly targeted specific pathogens. This is the first time that antibodies against a protein in the saliva of a pathogen’s transmitting agent (in this case, the tick) has been shown to confer immunity when administered protectively as a vaccine.

The Lyme bacterium known as Borrelia burgdorferi is transmitted by ticks. When it moves through the tick, it is coated with a tick salivary protein known as Salp15. The Yale team injected Salp15 into healthy mice and found that it significantly protected them from getting Lyme disease. When combined with outer surface proteins of B. burgdorferi, the protection was even greater.
 
 

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