Pioneering Vaccine Research Launched to Combat the Rising Tide of Group A Strep

Scientists at the University of Bristol have begun a pioneering research project to develop a vaccine to protect against Group A Strep, which has been increasing in recent years.

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The study funded by the recently established charity, Spencer Dayman Meningitis Research, will aim to provide evidence to aid the development of a successful vaccine. Invasive Group A streptococcus (iGAS) can cause meningitis, rheumatic fever causing heart disease, sepsis and several other life-threatening diseases. Latest data from12th September 2022 to 18th June 2023 show there were 491 deaths across all age groups in England caused by iGAS during this period. Group A Strep is also the main cause of scarlet fever causing over 58,000 cases in the same period.

There is no vaccine available to protect against Group A strep and it is unclear which parts of the bacteria to include in a vaccine. Scientists Dr Anu Goenka, Dr Alice Halliday and Dr Darryl Hill have developed an innovative approach that uses a new technique called tonsil organoid model. Tonsils are part of the immune system which help fight infection. The research involves growing cells from tonsils of patients which were removed during routine surgery. The team will collect the tonsils, separate the cells and then grow them in the laboratory alongside different parts of the Strep A bacteria. They will then measure the immune response to help them make decisions on which parts of the bacteria could be included in a successful vaccine.

This project will offer unique insights into the nature of the adaptive immune response to iGAS. Dr Anu Goenka said,

“We are very grateful to Spencer Dayman Meningitis Research for their generous financial support to enable us to undertake this important project”

Dr Steve Dayman MBE and founder of the charity who lost his son Spencer to meningitis and sepsis forty-one years ago said:

“Back then there were no vaccines to protect against bacterial infections causing meningitis and sepsis, now we have five vaccines in the UK vaccine program to protect against various strains of disease. Pioneering research such as this has always proven to be the starting point towards the development of successful vaccines”

Scientific Team

The team undertaking pioneering research to develop a vaccine to protect against Group A Strep.

Dr Anu Goenka
Dr Anu Goenka

Dr Darryl Hill
Darryl Hill

Dr Alice Halliday
Dr Alice Halliday

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