Image: Poor Miranda.
Rarely do you see the words “STI” and “good news” in the same sentence, but here we are: finally, we have some good news concerning STIs.
More specifically, it concerns the most common sexually transmitted infection in Australia — the one that affects both women and men, with more than half of all cases occurring in the 15-24 year age group.
Yep, we are talking about chlamydia.
At the moment, the only way to protect yourself from this common yet nasty bacterial infection is through safe sex with barrier contraception; scientists have been unable to develop a vaccination to quell its spread.
However, thanks to a new study, things are beginning to look promising on the chlamydia prevention front.
As The Verge reports, a research team has recreated chlamydia inoculation trials that took place in the 1960s. This (highly unethical) test failed dramatically because the vaccines, administered to otherwise healthy men, women and children living in countries like India and Ethiopia, didn't actually work.
In some cases, subjects actually became more susceptible to contracting the disease. (Post continues after gallery.)
This time around, scientists injected mice with live or dead chlamydia bacteria, chased with a second injection of live bacteria. The mice injected with dead bacteria first were more likely to be infected with chlamydia.
Essentially, this happened because the dead bacteria suppressed the mice's immune function — which suggests the immune system actually detected the bacteria. Using this finding, the researchers attempted to teach the animals' immune systems, particularly a certain type of white blood cells, that the bacteria should be killed off. (Post continues after gallery.)
You can read a more in-depth rundown of the process here, but in short: the scientists formulated a nasal spray using a combination of dead chlamydia bacteria and nano particle adjuvents (adjuvents are used in most vaccinations to boost the immune system's response).