Commonly found in Africa, Asia and Latin America, hookworm is an intestinal parasite which, if left untreated, can cause severe intestinal bleeding and in turn lead to iron-deficiency anaemia and protein malnutrition. Although the parasite affects up to 740 million people worldwide, no vaccine currently exists.
Now, thanks to a â¬6 million grant from the European Commission FP7 programme, the HOOKVAC consortium has announced that it will commence the first-ever testing of a human hookworm vaccine in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Phase I clinical studies, which will take place in Gabon, West Africa, will test two lead candidate antigens, Na-GST-1 and Na-APR-1.
Early-stage trials of Na-GST-1 are currently underway in the US and Brazil, and the US recently began early-stage testing with Na-APR-1.
"The importance of developing a vaccine for hookworm cannot be overstated. This is a devastating disease in Gabon," said Dr. Ayola Akim Adegnika of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Gabon. "We are proud to take part in the launch of clinical testing in Gabon. The HOOKVAC consortium is paving the way for an advancement that could greatly improve people's health, stimulate economic growth and give rise to other tools to control and eliminate parasitic diseases in Africa and around the world."
The human hookworm vaccine has been developed through the Sabin Vaccine Institute Product Development Partnership (PDP), and the HOOKVAC consortium includes several European and US partners.
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