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New Pneumococcal Vaccine Approach Successful in Early Tests
Date:2/16/2011

BOSTON, Feb. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pneumococcus (Streptococcus pneumoniae) accounts for as much as 11 percent of mortality in young children worldwide. While successful vaccines like Prevnar® exist, they are expensive and only work against specific pneumococcal strains, with the risk of becoming less effective as new strains emerge. Through a novel discovery approach, researchers at Children's Hospital Boston and Genocea Biosciences, Inc., in collaboration with the international nonprofit organization PATH, developed a new vaccine candidate that is potentially cheaper and able to protect against any pneumococcal strain.

Tested in mice, the protein-based vaccine successfully inhibited S. pneumoniae from establishing a foothold in the body, the researchers report in the February 17 issue of Cell Host & Microbe.

The current multivalent conjugate pneumococcal vaccines work by inducing people to make antibodies against the sugars on the bacterium's outer capsule. The antibodies then help fight off development of disease after the bacteria have colonized the body. But these vaccines are complex to manufacture, requiring separate individual components for sugars produced by multiple pneumococcal strains. Since pneumococci can make more than 90 different types of sugars, the vaccines may become less effective over time.

The new protein-based vaccine takes a different approach. Based on close to a decade of research at Children's Hospital Boston and utilizing Genocea's novel vaccine discovery technology developed at Harvard Medical School, it stimulates a group of cells in the body known as TH17 cells. These cells provide natural immunity to pneumococcal infection by clearing the bacteria from the surfaces of the upper respiratory tract where infection starts.

Six years ago, Children's Richard Malley, M.
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SOURCE Children's Hospital Boston
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