Syphilis is caused by a bacterium called T.pallidum. On the outside of that microbe, researchers found a protein that could enable the design of a vaccine to fight the sexually transmitted disease. Rates of the infection are rising, and now that this protein has been identified as a candidate for a vaccine, University of Connecticut researchers will be testing it for efficacy.
The disease was almost eradicated in the United States, but it is slowly coming back. It can cause serious health problems including stroke, dementia, and stillbirth "Syphilis is the great imitator; it can look like hyper pigmentation, or other conditions," said Dr. Juan C. Salazar, chairman of pediatrics at UConn Health and physician-in-chief at Connecticut Children's Medical Center.
Now that the scientists have studied the protein and its potential, they will begin to enroll participants in a study overseas. They want to ensure that their findings will apply to syphilis-causing bacterial strains that are all over the world.