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UNC receives funding to research vaccines for chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) - UNC researchers will work with colleagues around the world to identify a vaccine for chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections. 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received funding from the National Institute of Health, along with three other cooperative research centers, to research the vaccines. 

The Chlamydia Vaccine Initiative STI CRC will be lead by Principal Investigator Toni Darville, M.D., chief of the UNC Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, vice chair of pediatric research and a distinguished professor of pediatrics, microbiology and immunology at the UNC School of Medicine.

“Chlamydia can cause infertility and chronic pelvic pain in women, and infection has been linked to an increased risk for ovarian cancer,” said Darville. “Chlamydia is asymptomatic in 90 percent of men and women, leading to extremely high rates of infection. People don’t know they are infected, which is why a vaccine to prevent infection is so important. Women develop silent chronic infection and then present with infertility.” 

UNC will work with other researchers in Europe and Australia as they receive up to $10.7 million over five years from NIH. 

Darville's team will research in three parts.

The first will involve researchers at the University of Pittsburgh who will further study candidate vaccine antigens they identified in the previous TRAC project, UNC said. 

The second project will use animal models to test the chlamydia vaccine.

The third part looks to determine non-invasive biomarkers that predict the risk of upper genital tract infection in woman acutely infected and predict risk of repeated infection.

UNC will also work on a syphilis vaccine with the University of Connecticut, and a project to identify a gonorrheal vaccine candidate with partners at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda. 



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