Next generation pneumococcal vaccine progresses to clinical trials
17 March 2014
A new broad spectrum pneumococcal vaccine, developed from initial funding by Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), is entering the next stage of clinical trials.
The whole cell vaccine (WCV) is based on a technique where a particular strain of pneumococcus (containing most of the known virulence factors) is grown to high concentration and is then killed and inactivated before being made into a vaccine for injection. Researchers led by Dr Richard Malley at Boston Children’s Hospital were funded by MRF in 2001 to 2004 to further investigate this vaccine’s potential in the lab, and it has since gone on to clinical evaluation in the US. The first study was a Phase I trial in healthy adult volunteers and the results of these studies were presented last week at the International Symposium on Pneumococci and Pneumococcal Diseases (ISPPD)
One of the main theoretical advantages of this vaccine over existing pneumococcal vaccines is the broad protection it has shown against a much wider range of strains, whereas current vaccines only cover certain strains. Furthermore, preclinical data suggest that this vaccine may not only have a role in preventing disease due to pneumococcus, but also reduce pneumococcal carriage in the nasopharynx, and therefore lead to herd protection. Finally, the vaccine is very simple and inexpensive to produce, offering many advantages for production and use in the developing world, where pneumococcal disease is a big killer.
A recent blog by PATH
, the international non-profit health organization that has taken on development of this new vaccine, stated that this vaccine is now moving to clinical trials in a low-resource country, first in adults to further demonstrate safety and immunogenicity, and then moving on to children.
Dr Malley said “Although an important aspect of our research has been the development of vaccines for the developing world, we also believe that the work that has been generously supported by the MRF will also benefit children worldwide, as it has taught us new ways to combat this important threat to child health. It is our hope that the insights we gain and the vaccine that will be developed as a result of this work will bring us closer to eliminating pneumococcal disease worldwide.”