Current Studies

Controlled Human Infection Model (pertussis)

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Participants needed: Ages 18-40

Learn more about this study and what it’s like to be a participant at

Establishing a Controlled Human Infection Model of Bordetella pertussis

Am I able to Participate?

You can participate in the study if…

  • You are 18-40 years of age.
  • You are available for the entire residential stay in the Challenge Unit and during the outpatient period.
  • You are in good health.
  • Your physical examination and blood test at the screening visit are within normal limits.
  • You feel you will be able to stay in the Challenge Unit for the full 16-21 days and nights.

What is pertussis?

Commonly called whooping cough, pertussis is an acute and highly contagious bacterial respiratory tract infection of Bordetella pertussis.  The illness is named for the characteristic “whoop” noise caused by a sudden inhalation of air after a coughing fit that often occurs and is associated with the disease. There are 20–40 million cases of pertussis reported globally each year, 400,000 of those being fatal. Though illness in adults can be mild, symptoms can become severe in under-vaccinated and unvaccinated infants.

What do researchers want to find out?

Vaccination programs for pertussis have been available for decades; however, vaccination and immunity from natural infections don’t protect a person for life. There is limited understanding of pertussis’ ability to establish an infection, which pertussis antigens (disease-causing components) are the most effective targets for vaccines, or what type and amount of antibodies are needed to protect adults and children.Fading immunity is important to understand, as older individuals who are only partially immune due to previous illness or fading vaccination immunity are a major source of infection for infants. Infants under one-year-old are at greater risk for pertussis-related complications and death.To further understand how pertussis infects the body and answer other gaps in knowledge such as pathogenesis (how the disease develops), vaccine infectivity, and the immune response to the infection, CCfV is enrolling healthy, informed, and consenting adults in the first controlled human infection model study in Canada. Controlled human infection models, also known as human challenge trials/studies, are a specialized type of clinical trial where healthy, informed, and consenting adults are intentionally exposed to a pathogen (virus or bacteria) in a controlled environment with healthcare support.Learn more about fading immunity to pertussis and how a challenge trial could help in our blog.

The study:

Volunteers spend approximately 16-21 days in CCfV’s Challenge Unit, a highly specialized 10-bed hospital unit designed to fully contain respiratory infections. Healthcare support is available 24-7 to assist with and monitor participant safety and wellness.

The main goal of the first study is to determine the amount of B. pertussis (dose) that results in only mild symptoms (similar to a common cold). All participants will receive appropriate antibiotic treatment to prevent severe illness. Five days after appropriate treatment, participants are no longer contagious.



Find out more about this study

Please fill out the form below and we will be in touch shortly.