New discovery amplifies the impact of novel vaccine

Institute for Glycomics Associate Professor Dr Manisha Pandey helped to uncover secrets behind severe invasive infections associated with Strep A.

Philanthropy has helped accelerate research into streptococcus leading scientists to exciting new discoveries in stroke and toxic shock prevention and treatments.

In collaboration with its research partners, Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics has advanced the development of a vaccine for streptococcus (Strep A), an infection linked to rheumatic heart
disease (RHD) and RHD-related stroke, and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.

A significant funding boost to streptococcus research at the Institute, helped progress clinical trials of two vaccine candidates, with one toxicology study in the first trial confirming the vaccine is safe to be tested on humans and a second vaccine trial underway.

Program lead and laboratory head Professor Michael Good AO said his lab had been working on streptococcus for the best part of 30 years because it’s a major illness for which there is no vaccine.

“This research requires significant funding and we are very grateful for the funding we have received,” he said.

“Our research has the potential to save people’s lives but without our donors we would not be where we are today. On behalf of myself, the team, our partners and the many people who may one day benefit from the work we are doing here, I thank you.”

If successful, the research could lead to a simple childhood vaccine dramatically reducing RHD-related strokes, but also has the potential to treat and prevent toxic shock caused by invasive
streptococcal disease.

“Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome is an acute condition like meningococcus–if you get exposed to the organism you can be dead within a matter of days or less. So, we’re hopeful what we’ve
discovered can help save lives,” Professor Good said.

While streptococcus (Strep A) is the same bacteria group that causes common and non-life-threatening ailments such as school sores and tonsillitis, about one in 100 cases can develop into streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.

“We were able to show our vaccine can prevent and induce antibodies that can treat this deadly disease,” Professor Good said.

In their search for a cure, researchers will soon be looking to move the vaccine to human clinical trials, something that would not have been possible without ongoing donor support.

Institute for Glycomics research into Strep A infection receives funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council, ATMC, National Foundation for Medical Research and Innovation,
Heart Foundation, Lowitja Institute and the Snow Foundation.