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25 Jul 2019

Researchers at Flinders University have successfully completed human trials on a vaccine designed to eliminate the risk of severe allergic reactions to European honeybee stings.

Bee stings can be especially dangerous for those at risk of suffering a life-threatening allergic reaction.

The clinical trial at the university and the Royal Adelaide Hospital included 27 adults with a history of allergic reactions to bee stings.

The vaccine used in the trial contained a unique sugar-based ingredient called an adjuvant, developed in Adelaide, which is designed to help the body neutralise the bee venom at a faster rate.

The Advax adjuvant which enhances the bee sting vaccines was developed in Adelaide by Vaxine Pty Ltd and has also been used to develop vaccines for seasonal and pandemic influenza, hepatitis, malaria, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and other diseases.

The university’s Professor Nikolai Petrovsky said the adjuvant used to enhance the bee sting vaccines had been successfully given to more than a thousand individuals, across a range of different vaccines, including in the current bee sting allergy trial.

“Our technology is like adding a turbocharger to a car and in this case makes the bee allergy vaccine much more powerful, allowing the immune system to better neutralise the bee venom and prevent allergic symptoms,” Professor Petrovsky said.

Associate Professor Robert Heddle, lead investigator in the trial, said the aim was to see if the Advax adjuvant would safely speed up and improve bee sting immunotherapy. 

“The results of the study were very promising and confirmed the safety of this approach to improving bee sting immunotherapy,” he said.

While a commercial bee venom therapy is already available, it requires patients to have more than 50 injections over a three-year period to build up their immune system.



Published: 25 Jul 2019