Potential new vaccine for bee stings
Date: Feb 2017
If you’ve ever been stung by a wasp or other insect, then you’ll know how painful this can be. Symptoms of a sting can include localised pain, swelling, and itchiness. But for some people, a bee sting can lead to an anaphylactic shock and in some cases can be fatal.
Australian researchers have developed a potentially new vaccine specifically for European honeybee stings. Successful trials were undertaken last year (2016) based in the lab, with researchers now keen to conduct clinical trials on humans using ant venom therapy and sting challenges to test the vaccine’s effectiveness.
The lead pathologist carrying out this research, Professor Robert Heddle said “There are more people in Australia dying from sting allergies than nut allergies but it still flies under the radar. With the help of delta-inulin (Advax) we seem to have enhanced responses without it needing to be chemically combined and it is a much cheaper option. We think the results were very promising with the bee venom and there was no evidence that the inulin did anyone in the study any harm.”
The delta-inulin adjuvant acts like a turbocharger to help the immune system to recognise the venom and target it faster as it is injected into the body. The adjuvant used to enhance the vaccines is already being used in other vaccines such as influenz and malaria.
Following further tests, if the vaccine can be commercialised it could offer a level of protection for allergy sufferers against reactions such as bee stings.
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Last revised: 1 February 2017