June 06, 2019
1 min read

Researchers make new push to develop group A strep vaccine

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Researchers are relying on DNA sequencing technology to narrow down a future vaccine candidate for A Streptococcus, or GAS, that can be used globally.

According to Mark R. Davies, PhD, and colleagues, no commercial vaccine is currently available for GAS.

After analyzing 2,083 GAS genomes collected from around the world, 290 clinically associated genomic phylogroups were identified in 22 countries. The researchers wrote that such a high number of phylogroups found across various countries “highlights the challenges in designing vaccines of global utility.”

Davies and colleagues investigated all previously described GAS candidate antigens for gene carriage and gene sequence heterogenicity. They found that only 15 of 28 vaccine antigen candidates were considered to have both minimal naturally occurring sequence variation and high coverage ( 99%) across the global GAS population.

Recently, the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia were granted $2.25 million from the Wellcome Trust to develop a vaccine candidate for GAS and to seek out manufacturers, according to a press release from IVI.

WHO previously labeled GAS as a pathogen requiring a vaccine in 2014.

Jerome Kim, MD, director general of IVI, said in the release that GAS is one of the most significant causes of mortality from infectious diseases. The CDC reports that between 1,100 and 1,600 people die from invasive GAS infections every year in the United States.

“[GAS] usually begins with a sore throat, but if left untreated, it causes the immune system to become overactive, resulting in rheumatic heart disease, which damages heart valves and over time causes heart failure and death,” he said. “This affects more than 33 million people around the world, and the vast majority of deaths are in low- and middle-income countries. A vaccine would be the most effective and cost-effective way to control infection.” – by Katherine Bortz


CDC: Group A Streptococcal (GAS) disease. https://www.cdc.gov/groupastrep/surveillance.html. Accessed June 4, 2019.

Davies MR, et al. Nature Genet. 2019;doi:10.1038/s41588-019-0417-8.

Disclosures: Davies reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures. Infectious Diseases in Children was unable to confirm Kim’s relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.