Development of a New Generation of Pneumococcal Vaccines

Pre-clinical development of a new generation of pneumococcal vaccines.

 

Prof Aras Kadioglu, Dr Marie Yang and Dr Dean Everett were awarded £246,783 from Meningitis Now for the project “The preclinical development and evaluation of a mucosal protein-based adjuvanted vaccine against pneumococcal meningitis and sepsis”, to be started in September 2016.

 

About Streptococcus pneumoniae

Streptococcus pneumoniae (or the pneumococcus) resides asymptomatically in the nose and throat of healthy individuals. However, under certain circumstances and in susceptible individuals, such as young children, the elderly and the immunocompromised, it can propagate to the blood and vital organs, leading to life-threatening diseases such as meningitis, sepsis, pneumonia, as well as mild infections such as sinusitis and otitis media (ear infection). In infants, pneumococcal disease causes globally greater mortality than tuberculosis, HIV and malaria combined. Despite the availability of antibiotics, the mortality and morbidity associated with pneumococcal invasive disease attain 30% in poor resource countries, making preventative approaches a vital necessity.

 

Current pneumococcal vaccines

Pneumococci exist in distinct groups, called serotypes, and to date, nearly 100 different serotypes have been identified. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent pneumococcal invasive disease, however, current vaccines have significant limitations in that they do not, unfortunately, provide protection against all existing serotypes, hence allowing for replacement by non-vaccine covered serotypes that exist in the larger community. Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to pneumococcal disease because of the relative immaturity of their immune system, but they are also the largest natural reservoir of pneumococci. Recent reports suggest that, in a few years, currently licensed vaccines against pneumococcal disease may no longer be efficient in these age groups. Hence, the development of a novel vaccine against pneumococcal disease is a major health priority.

 

The research project

The aim of the project is to design and assess the protective efficacy and safety of novel vaccines in clinically relevant in vivo models of meningitis and sepsis. In collaboration with Prof Ed Lavelle, at the School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity College Dublin, novel adjuvanted formulations combined with newly discovered conserved pneumococcal antigens will be evaluated for their broad and cross-serotype cellular immune protection.