A powerful bee sting vaccine designed to eliminate the risk of a severe allergic reaction to European honeybee venom has successfully completed a human trial in South Australia. The vaccine used a unique sugar adjuvant, called Advax, which was developed in Adelaide by Vaxine Pty Ltd, to help the body neutralise bee venom.

Researchers hope the boosted vaccine could lead to shorter and more effective bee sting immunotherapy for people with severe allergies. Professor Petrovsky was among researchers from Flinders University and the Royal Adelaide Hospital who conducted the European honeybee sting vaccine trial using Advax adjuvant on 27 adults.

“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,” says Professor Petrovsky.

People with severe bee sting allergies have to continually receive injections throughout their lives. This new vaccine could mean having as little as one injection per month.

For ethical reasons, researchers had to provide participants with the same number of injections as they would with a traditional treatment. “The antibodies that we measured stayed much higher for much longer in people who had the adjuvant,” says Petrovsky. “So that’s why we’re excited that this might mean we can significantly increase the duration between the allergy shots if we use that as a marker.”