A vaccine developed by researchers at the Griffith University Institute for Glycomics could be used to treat and prevent toxic shock caused by invasive streptococcal disease, which kills more than 160 000 people every year. Group A Streptococci bacteria cause common, non‐life‐threatening illnesses such as impetigo (school sores) and tonsillitis, which are easily spread by coughing, sneezing, and sharing food and drinks. In about one in 100 cases, however, the organism enters the body, causing invasive streptococcal disease; which is potentially life‐threatening; mortality can exceed 25% in even the best equipped medical facilities. When invasive streptococcal disease occurs, some bacterial strains produce more toxins than others, causing streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS). The international research team, which includes scientists from Melbourne and Edmonton, Canada, used a transgenic mouse model to develop the first candidate STSS vaccine, a conserved M protein peptide (“J8”). Vaccination with J8 reduced the bacterial burden in the spleen and blood of infected animals by 3–6 orders of magnitude. Administering antibody to J8 also cleared the infection in treated transgenic mice and reduced the mitogenic and inflammatory activity of the M protein, effects enhanced by adding antibody to the streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin. The next step will be to produce monoclonal antibodies suitable for trials in humans. The research was published in Science Advances.
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