By Kerrigan Stern
For The Diamondback
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new cholera vaccine developed by researchers at the University of Maryland.
The vaccine, called Vaxchora, may be available for public use in the fall, according to The Baltimore Sun. The creators and distributors hope that the vaccine will protect travelers in the U.S. from cholera, which causes millions of people to become ill each year, though few reside in the United States.
"Vaxchora represents a significant addition to the cholera-prevention measures currently recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for travelers to cholera-affected regions," Dr. Peter Marks, the director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told The Sun.
Though researchers first created the vaccine in the 1980s, it has yet to arrive on the market in the United States. This university's Center for Vaccine Development and PaxVax, a vaccine distributor, partnered to analyze Vaxchora in humans as they sought FDA approval. Because so few U.S. citizens contract cholera naturally, the researchers used an unprecedented method: infecting willing participants.
Although Vaxchora can prevent countless travelers from contracting cholera, it may not work in all cases. It has been found to be about 90 percent effective at 10 days and close to 80 percent effective at three months, according to The Sun. Still, the vaccine is an improvement over typical saltwater and IV treatments.
"Until now, U.S. travelers have not had access to a vaccine to help protect against this potentially deadly pathogen," said Lisa Danzig, PaxVax's vice president of clinical development and medical affairs, according to The Sun.
The vaccine requires further testing in other countries before being administered, as well as for long-term efficacy.
There is no confirmed date when the medication will enter the market and be available for any U.S. traveler, but it could be available this year. It is likely that researchers will continue to improve Vaxchora to reach a higher rate of efficacy.