Health news Pfizer’s vaccine provides some protection against Omicron, a lab study suggests. Glycoprotein’s delivery mechanism also has unexpected secondary benefits Sleeping sickness in your gut may not be what it seems, say the results of a study that started with a hypothesis. Will Pfizer’s new vaccine catch it?
In 2007, we learned that Pfizer had successfully tested a new vaccine for sleeping sickness, a deadly parasitic infection transmitted by black-legged ticks (aka vampire bats). It turned out that this new vaccine had been successful even when it was only given to those at the most risk, people who already had a case of sleeping sickness and who were very ill. To evaluate how the vaccine worked, we recruited 84 people with symptoms of sleeping sickness and gave the vaccine to 15 of them. Another 18 were given placebos. We found that three people in each group, or 15 out of 112, were successfully cured.
We also reported that people receiving the vaccine did better than those who received placebos when it came to chronic itch. All individuals initially receiving placebos had exceptional responses to the vaccine, no matter what they had in their guts. But those who were given the new vaccine were indistinguishable from those who had received placebos for the rest of the study. They even scored higher on a mean gut score that measured fecal motility. At the same time, we reported that a lot of the benefit came from an unusually powerful antagonist, an amino acid called glycoprotein.
We expected that glycoprotein would treat the inflammation in the gut. But in fact we found that it improved the immune systems of those with both diseases and very ill patients, while slowing the pace of their worsening. Glycoprotein also reduced the animals’ appetite.
Read our full article on this fascinating study.
• By Stanley Drachler, Paul Scott, Bruce A Bate, Anna Thinn and James Chung