A new study published in Nature Genetics, led by a team of researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, reveals that the hookworm’s genome has been decoded. These new developments will greatly aid scientists dr. Peter Hotez and dr. Bin Zhan at the Sabine Vaccine Institute, who focus on how different hookworm genes are responsible for invading humans, feeding on human blood and bypassing the host’s immune system. These findings have the potential to lead to new advancements and are welcome given how human hookworm, a neglected tropical disease (NTD), plagues nearly 700 million of the world’s poorest people. [Read More at the Sabine Vaccine Institute Blog]
Approximately 600-700 million people are infected by hookworm, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Hookworm infection ranks number one in terms of Years Lost from Disability from a neglected infectious disease, and among the top 3 in terms of lost Disability-Adjusted Life Years.
HOOKVAC will be developing the first and only vaccine for human hookworm infection. A bivalent, low-cost vaccine candidate will be clinically tested for the first time in an African disease endemic population. This will be done in Gabon in a very typical setting within the Central African rainforest belt, where the incidence of hookworm infections is 30%. Inspired by preparatory research, HOOKVAC believes that it can develop the vaccine with at least 80% efficacy against moderate and heavy hookworm infections that lasts at five years after immunization. Cost effectiveness modelling has shown that such a vaccine will significantly improve the efficacy of the current mass drug administration programs. HOOKVAC will play a crucial role in advancing toward large scale efficacy studies in African endemic areas.