LYMErix, a vaccine against Lyme disease based on Yale research licensed to SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, received Food and Drug Administration approval in December for prescription use. Yale served as a major study center during clinical trials of the compound, which is the first vaccine approved for the disease.
The vaccine, which became available to patients in January, was derived from basic research performed at the School of Medicine by a team including Richard A. Flavell, Ph.D., Fred S. Kantor, M.D., Erol Fikrig, M.D., and Stephen W. Barthold, D.V.M., Ph.D.
The FDA approval restricted its use to people between 15 and 70 years old pending the outcome of further testing. “There are currently studies in progress to evaluate the vaccine in children,” said Robert T. Schoen, M.D., clinical professor of medicine and director of the Lyme Disease Clinic at the medical school. In addition, researchers will track the need for booster shots beyond the three initial injections. Given over the course of a year, the three doses of the vaccine were found in clinical trials to provide 78 percent protection against Lyme disease.
Schoen cautioned that other measures, such as protective clothing and insect repellent, should be taken with use of the vaccine. “The vaccine is not 100 percent protective,” he said. “Other tick-transmitted infections could also occur. It is important that the vaccine be part of an overall prevention program.”