Lyme disease is becoming more and more common. Once a rare affliction found in just a few parts of the US, mainly in the Northeast and Great Lakes, it has now turned up in all 50 states. The ticks that carry it have spread farther south and west. Scientists have tried to think of ways to stop the spread, including killing deer, using pesticide to control ticks, and a vaccine that wasn’t popular was voluntarily taken off the market, per The Conversation. But there’s hope—a team of infectious disease researchers at the University of Massachusetts medical school has come up with a shot that shows a person’s immune system an actual antibody for Lyme disease.
Vaccines work by teaching human immune systems how to make their own antibodies, but Lyme PreEP, now in human clinical trials, takes a different approach. It delivers an antibody directly into the bloodstream and should immediately bestow 6 to 8 months of protection against the spirochete bacterium that causes the illness, Outside reports. French company Valneva is working on an oral vaccine, too. Mark Klempner, the lead researcher on the University of Massachusetts team, expects both treatments to struggle for public acceptance, though, because Lyme disease is not incredibly well-understood, by laypeople and in the medical community. “It’s just an unfortunate hurdle that is in our way,” Klempner says. Assuming the tests go well, the UMass shots could be available to the public in 2023. (Read more Lyme disease stories.)