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Clinical Trial Testing Hookworm Vaccine To Begin In Gabon Next Year

“The first African clinical trial of an experimental vaccine against hookworm is planned for next year,” the New York Times reports. Though rarely fatal, the worms are especially a concern among children who often go barefoot, the newspaper notes, adding, “By constantly draining their victims’ blood, the worms cause anemia, stunted growth and learning problems, and leave children too weak to go to school.” Sabin Vaccine Institute Director Peter Hotez “explained that the vaccine creates antibodies not against the parasites themselves but against two enzymes found in the worm’s own gut — one that detoxifies the iron in its blood diet, and another that digests blood proteins,” and “[w]ithout those enzymes the worm slowly dies,” the newspaper writes. “The trial will start on a few adults in Gabon, and children will eventually be enrolled,” according to the New York Times (McNeil, 10/14).