Researchers have identified three potential vaccine compounds against onchocerciasis, also called river blindness, and hope to begin safety trials by 2020. Onchocerciasis affects an estimated 17 million people around the world, mostly in west and central Africa. While onchocerciasis is mostly known for causing eye conditions and blindness, it also causes severe skin disease and intense itching.

"Lead researcher Professor David Taylor, from the University of Edinburgh's division of infection and pathway medicine, began work on the causes of river blindness in 1981.

"He said: 'New knowledge of the way nematode parasites regulate people's immune responses has guided formulation of experimental vaccines.

"'A vaccine against river blindness would complement and augment existing treatment and significantly improve the prospects for eliminating this disease from Africa.'

"It is hoped that the vaccine will be used initially to protect vulnerable children in affected areas."


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