Daily Bulletin

Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Chris Davis, General Manager Executive, Institute for Glycomics, Griffith University

Infection with group A streptococcus bacteria (strep A) leads to a wide array of diseases. These range from uncomplicated infections such as strep throat (tonsillitis) and skin sores (impetigo), through to severe invasive diseases such as deep soft tissue infection, sepsis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.

If strep infections are left untreated, they can lead to rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease. These are caused by the immune system’s response to the initial infection.

Globally, more than 616 million new cases of strep throat are recorded each year. While this places a significant burden on health systems and causes substantial productivity losses, the invasive and post-infectious diseases are responsible for the most death and disease.

It is estimated at least 18.1 million people have rheumatic fever or rheumatic heart disease and there are more than 645,000 new cases each year. In urban China, rheumatic heart disease affects approximately 2 million middle-aged to elderly people (186 people per 100,000). This is about ten times higher than the rate in countries such as Canada (22 people per 100,000) and Japan (14 people per 100,000).

Of particular significance to Australia is the rate of rheumatic heart disease in our Indigenous population, estimated to be a staggering 651 per 100,000 people.

Overall, strep A is responsible for more than 500,000 deaths worldwide each year. This is more deaths worldwide than malaria.

Strep A vaccine

The development of a vaccine to combat strep A has been particularly challenging. Group A streptococcus is a gram-positive bacterial pathogen, meaning they have no outer membrane and are thus generally more susceptible to antibiotics. More than 200 known strains are circulating globally.

Not only do we need a vaccine able to address the diversity of various strains of strep A in the community, we also need to ensure the vaccine itself does not induce autoimmune complications.

Our team has invented a vaccine candidate comprising a small peptide (part of a protein) found on the surface of all strains of the bacteria. We found this peptide is effective at stimulating the body’s immune system to protect against infection by multiple strains of streptococcus A.

Our latest discovery is to embed this peptide into a liposome (a tiny, synthetic ball), which mimics the structure of microorganisms to better stimulate the correct immune response.

Our vaccine has the additional advantage of being delivered needle-free (via a spray into the nose) and directly to the lining of the upper respiratory tract. Not only is this method of delivery less invasive (and hence preferential to a jab in the arm), it elicits a better response from the immune cells in the respiratory tract lining, which is the most common site of strep A infections.

image Mechanism of the streptococcus A vaccine. Author provided

When will it be available?

Griffith University has just entered into a major co-development and licence arrangement with Chinese vaccine company Olymvax Biopharmaceuticals Inc. We have demonstrated in the laboratory that our vaccine is effective, so now we will be able to manufacture vaccine material and complete phase one human clinical trials in healthy volunteers.

We plan to conduct parallel trials in China and Australia within the next two years. In Australia, we propose to conduct studies in an Indigenous population – where it is most urgently needed.

We plan to have the vaccine on the market within six to eight years. Olymvax has the rights to commercialise the vaccine in China, while Griffith retains the ability to commercialise the vaccine in Australia and other global markets.

Given its global significance, there is a very strong case for a strep A vaccine to be incorporated into universal immunisation programs, in particular the routine childhood vaccination schedule.

Dr Phil Elery, Business Manager, Institute for Glyomics, Griffith University, contributed to this article.

Authors: Chris Davis, General Manager Executive, Institute for Glycomics, Griffith University

Read more http://theconversation.com/vaccine-for-strep-throat-and-rheumatic-fever-to-be-trialled-in-humans-63390

Writers Wanted

Schitt's Creek: the TV show has been showered with Emmys but is it worth the hype?


COVID-19 and small island nations: what we can learn from New Zealand and Iceland


'If JobSeeker was cut, the unemployed would be picking fruit'? Why that's not true


The Conversation


Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Prime Minister National Cabinet Statement

The National Cabinet met today to discuss Australia’s COVID-19 response, the Victoria outbreak, easing restrictions, helping Australians prepare to go back to work in a COVID-safe environment an...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Ten tips for landing a freelance transcription job

Transcription jobs are known to be popular in the field of freelancing. They offer fantastic job opportunities to a lot of people, but there are some scammers who wait to cheat the freelancers. ...

News Company - avatar News Company

How To Remove Rubbish More Effectively

It can be a big task to remove household rubbish. The hardest part is finding the best way to get rid of your junk. It can be very overwhelming to know exactly where to start with so many option...

News Company - avatar News Company

4 Tips To Pass Skills Certifications Tests

Developing the right set of skills is valuable not only to your career, but for life in general. You can get certified in these skills through obtaining a license. Without a certified license, y...

News Company - avatar News Company

News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion