Researchers from the University of California have identified a possible solution to the often damaging immune response casued by strep for future strep vaccine
Group A Streptococcus (strep) is estimated to cost the US $2 billion annually thanks to lost time and productivity amongst its work force. Whilst for most, the only symptom of strep will be a painful throat infection, for some the effects of strep can go further.
In some cases, the immune response caused by the presence of strep can cross-react with a patient’s heart valve tissue. this can cause rheumatic fever and damage to the heart. This problem has stood in the way of development for a strep vaccine for many years.
But researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, have uncovered the building blocks of strep’s cell wall.
The cell wall of strwep is composed mainly group A carbohydrate (GAC), which is itself built from the bacterial sugar rhamnose and the human like sugar N-acetylglucoseamine (GlcNAc). It is believed that GlcNAc is responsible for the creation of antibodies capable of damaging the heart. The researchers suggest that preventing GlcNAc from adding to GAC could well form the basis of a safe vaccine for strep.
After further research, it was discovered that mutant strep strains lacking GlcNAc, whilst behaving in exactly the same mannor as strep, could be easily killed by human white blood cells.
The researcher will being to test the antibodies that successfully responded to the mutant strep strain against other strep candidates in non-human primates later this year.
Find the paper in Cell Host and Microbe here.