The progress so far with The Pioneering AVIATOR Strep A Study.

Dr Anu Goenka


Dr Anu Goenka explains about the progress so far with this pioneering project.

We have made an exciting start on the AVIATOR Strep A Study (Vaccine development using a tonsil organoid system). Group A Streptococcus (GAS) or ‘Strep A’ is a bacterial species which can cause a range of diseases from mild infections (affecting throat and skin) to severe infections (e.g. pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis).

It is estimated that Strep A causes over half million deaths each year, many of whom are children. The diseases that are caused by Strep A have been increasing in recent years, despite the availability of antibiotics to treat infections. Strep A bacteria are usually transmitted through the throat, mouth and nose.

A vaccine which could prevent Strep A from infecting the throat/mouth/nose would greatly reduce the impact of Strep A diseases. However, there is no vaccine available for Strep A, and it is unclear which parts of the bacteria (called antigens) to include in a new vaccine.

In this project, we are developing an innovative approach that uses a new technique called a tonsil organoid model. Tonsils are part of the immune system located in the back of the throat which helps us to fight infection. Our tonsil organoid model involves growing cells from the tonsils of patients which were removed during routine surgery. We have been collecting tonsils from donors and separating out the cells, and then growing the cells in the laboratory alongside with different parts of the Strep A bacteria.

So far, our work in this project has been focused on developing the laboratory techniques that measure the immune responses of these tonsil cells. We have made progress in translating the laboratory techniques to a smaller format which uses fewer cells, which will make it easier for us to compare responses from different donors.

We are very grateful to Spencer Dayman Meningitis Research for funding this project, and excited about the next steps of this project, which we help will ultimately help us make decisions on which parts of the GAS bacteria could be included in a vaccine.

Important information about GAS

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