Chlamydia trachomatis serovars A-L3 are the causative agents of hyperendemic blinding trachoma, a largely neglected disease of the developing world, and sexually transmitted infections (STI) that are epidemic worldwide. Chlamydial STI are risk factors for HIV and a cervical cancer co-factor. Control of these important human diseases is the long term goal of this project. Towards this end our goal is to develop a safe and efficacious live attenuated vaccine to prevent these diseases. The obligate intracellular life style, complex developmental biology, and antigenic structure of chlamydiae have severally hindered progress in vaccine development. A live-attenuated vaccine (LAV) will be beneficial in circumventing these difficulties. We have made a plasmid deficient trachoma strain and found it to be highly attenuated for the monkey eye. Ocular infection with the LAV is immunogenic and induces solid protective immunity to challenge with virulent trachoma organsims, Interestingly, LAV immunity was shown to be superior to natural infection mediated immunity. Ongoing studies are aimed at defining T cell immune correlates of solid protective immunity. These findings will guide further vaccine studies that are capable of preferentially targeting T cell protective immunity to both LAV and subunit vaccines.
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