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New Vaccine Promises To Wipe Out Pneumonia, Sepsis And Meningitis

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A new vaccine promises to wipe out life-threatening pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis according new research study.

Although the number of pneumonia-related deaths reduced by one million between 2004 and 2015 due to the introduction of the ‘pneumo jab’, the injection only targets the 23 most critical forms of the bacteria, with other strains also being responsible for fatalities.

The new jab targets dozens of bacterial strains, including the 23 most deadly, and can be tweaked to destroy as of yet undiscovered, potentially treatment-resistant forms, a study found.

Study author Dr Blaine Pfeifer from the University at Buffalo, said: ‘We can potentially provide universal coverage against bacteria that cause pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis and other types of pneumococcal disease.

‘It holds the promise of saving hundreds of thousands of lives each year.’

The researchers developed a vaccine that provoked an immune response to 72 forms of more than 90 known Streptococcus pneumoniae strains, including the 23 most critically dangerous.

In many instances, the jab outperformed existing S. pneumoniae injections.

Dr Pfeifer said: ‘We’ve made tremendous progress fighting the spread of pneumonia, especially among children.

‘But if we’re ever going to rid ourselves of the disease, we need to create smarter and more cost-effective vaccines.

‘The advantage of our approach is that we don’t have to apply the more complex chemistry that is required for [existing vaccines].

‘As a result, we can potentially provide universal coverage against bacteria that cause pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis and other types of pneumococcal disease.

‘It holds the promise of saving hundreds of thousands of lives each year.’

The findings were published in the journal Science Advances.

Pneumonia is caused by the bacterium S. pneumoniae. This pathogen can also cause septicaemia and meningitis, which can lead to permanent brain damage or even death.

Each S. pneumoniae strain contains unique sugars. Vaccines connect these sugars to make a protein.

Once the body recognises this protein, it launches a response to destroy invading bacteria before they have the opportunity to form a colony.

Yet creating specific proteins for each S. pneumoniae strain is time-consuming and expensive. This treatment approach also kills beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Another vaccine, known as Pneumovax 23, contains sugars of 23 of the most common types of S. pneumoniae, however, the immune response it provokes is not as strong as the recently developed jab.

Study author Charles Jones, CEO at vaccine manufacturer Abcombi Biosciences, said: ‘Traditional vaccines completely remove bacteria from the body.

‘But we now know that bacteria – and in a larger sense, the microbiome – are beneficial to maintaining good health.

‘What’s really exciting is that we now have the ability – with the vaccine we’re developing – to watch over bacteria and attack it only if it breaks away from the colony to cause an illness.

‘That’s important because if we leave the harmless bacteria in place, it prevents other harmful bacteria from filling that space.’

It is unclear when the vaccine could be available.

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About Author

Akin Akingbala is an international journalist based in Lagos, Nigeria. Aside being happily married, he has interests in music, sports and loves traveling.

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