A team of Israeli scientists has for the first time in the world developed an mRNA vaccine that can help treat a deadly plague-causing bacteria responsible for some of the worst pandemics in human history.
So far mRNA vaccines, like those targeting Covid-19, have been effective against viruses but not against bacteria. The new finding paves the way for effective vaccination against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis. Symptoms vary depending on the form of infection it takes. The most serious kind is pneumonic plague, which is highly deadly without prompt antibiotic treatment and can be contagious to others.
The team from Tel Aviv University (TAU) and the Israel Institute for Biological Research developed the mRNA-based vaccine that is 100 per cent effective against bacteria Yersinia pestis -- that is lethal to humans.
The study, conducted in an animal model, demonstrated that all treated animals were fully protected against the bacteria. "There are many pathogenic bacteria for which we have no vaccines.
Moreover, due to excessive use of antibiotics over the last few decades, many bacteria have developed resistance to antibiotics, reducing the effectiveness of these important drugs.
Consequently, antibiotic-resistant bacteria already pose a real threat to human health worldwide," said Prof. Dan Peer, from TAU's Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research.
Developing a new type of vaccine may provide an answer to this global problem, Peer said. In the study, published in the journal Science Advances, the team tested the novel mRNA vaccine in animals infected with a deadly bacterium.
Within a week, all unvaccinated animals died, while those vaccinated with the vaccine remained alive and well. Moreover, in one of the vaccination methods, one dose provided full protection just two weeks after it was administered.
The ability to provide full protection with just one dose is crucial for protection against future outbreaks of fast-spreading bacterial pandemics. "It is important to note that the Covid-19 vaccine was developed so quickly because it relied on years of research on mRNA vaccines for similar viruses.
If tomorrow we face some kind of bacterial pandemic, our study will provide a pathway for quickly developing safe and effective mRNA vaccines,"Peer said.