Estrie will participate in the development of a vaccine against Lyme disease

Estrie will participate in the development of a vaccine against Lyme disease, which is scheduled for release by 2026.

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“We expect to recruit a hundred patients by the end of the summer,” explains in an interview with the Log the Dr Alex Carignan, professor and researcher at the University of Sherbrooke and clinician at the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS.

The pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Valnera launched in 2017 the first phase of clinical trials of the vaccine called “VLA15”, which will prevent Lyme disease by 2025 or 2026.

In 2020, the second phase was authorized by the American authorities. Recruitment issues have been observed in the third phase, launched in 2022. Recently, the Dr Carignan and his team were approached to contribute.

“We did not understand why Canada had not been included in the research project. And the Estrie region is a hot spot for tick-borne diseases,” explains the researcher and clinician.

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60% of cases

With already 30 cases out of the 50 reported this spring to the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, Estrie is by far the region most affected by Lyme disease in Quebec. In 2022, there were 320 of the 527 cases of Lyme disease there. Montérégie came second with 113 cases identified.

Several factors explain this reality, argues the Dr Carignan. “The proximity of the borders with the United States where the disease is very present, and the global warming which favors the establishment in Quebec of ticks carrying pathogens are examples”, he specifies.

Better protected dogs

Other elements such as the decrease in predators such as wolves and coyotes, which feed in particular on white-footed mice, a reservoir of the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria transmitted to humans, is another hypothesis.

The expert deplores the fact that doctors are not always aware of the symptoms of Lyme disease, which is treated with antibiotics when diagnosed early.

The infection season is already well underway for this specialist who recently intervened with a 10-year-old child who had to be operated on for hip inflammation after being infected. The patient, who did not come from Estrie, was slow to receive a diagnosis.

The Dr Carignan is impatient to see the arrival of a vaccine preventing this insidious disease against which his two dogs have been inoculated for several years. “I sometimes say that our animals are better protected than us against Lyme disease.”

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