After scientists make breakthroughs in understanding how the body fights off bacteria, a vaccine that protects against step A may be on the horizon.
Streptococcus A usually causes mild infections such as strep throat, impetigo, and scarlet fever. However, in very rare cases, it can lead to fatal illness. Twenty-four of her children have died in the UK in recent months.
Currently, infections can be easily treated with antibiotics if detected early. But when bacteria become resistant to drugs, experts say it poses a ‘significant public health threat’.
But Swedish researchers have found an antibody that fights off Strep A bacteria in an unusual way. They believe this could be key to vaccine development.
Swedish researchers have discovered an antibody that fights off Strep A bacteria in an unusual way. It is believed that this could be the key to vaccine development.
Strep A is a bacterium that can cause infections of the throat, skin and respiratory tract. If left untreated, an infection can lead to serious complications. Ear infections, toxic shock syndrome, and kidney inflammation are all possible complications.
Researchers at Lund University studied the blood of patients who had recovered from severe Strep A infections to see how their immune systems fought off the bacteria.
They mapped the antibodies the body produces when infected with Strep A.
This has allowed us to find something available for medicines and vaccines when infections occur.
So far, researchers using this method have been unable to develop antibody-based therapies that work against Strep A, according to the team.
But a Swedish group has found an antibody that works in a ‘rare’ way against Strep A that ‘has never been described’ and ‘could explain why so many vaccine attempts have failed’. Did.
Antibodies are shaped like the letter Y. They discovered that her Ab25 used its two “arms” to hook onto her two different parts of a protein on the surface of Strep A bacteria called the M protein.
Where this unique process was discovered, the body was able to show a strong response to the bacteria.
Antibodies typically use one arm to bind to one site, the researchers said. However, this process has no effect on his Strep A.
“This opens up the possibility that previous vaccine attempts have failed and that the monoclonal antibodies we used may protect against infection,” said Dr. Wael Vernan, an immunologist at Lund and one of the study authors. It means that
The team further tested the antibody on animals and found that it was able to generate a “potent immune response against the bacteria.”
They have now applied for a patent based on their findings and have been published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicineand hope that antibodies will eventually lead to treatments and vaccines for Strep A.
Study author Professor Pontus Nordenfeld said, “Normally, an antibody binds to its target protein at a single site via one of its two Y-arms, regardless of which of the two arms is used for binding. To do.
The majority of infections are relatively mild, but in very rare cases the bacteria can cause invasive group A streptococci (iGAS).
Strep A bacteria can cause a variety of other infections, including impetigo, scarlet fever, and strep throat
“But this is important information. We found that the two Y-arms can recognize and hook to two different locations on the same target protein.”
This comes after the UK Health Security Agency confirmed last week that another five children had died from Streptococcus A, bringing the total to 24 since September.
The majority occurred in England (21), followed by Wales (2) and Northern Ireland (1).
Although low, the number of children dying from Streptococcus A in the UK is higher than expected for this time of year.
Across the worst season of 2017/18, 27 people under the age of 18 died from bugs.
Strep A bacteria can cause a variety of infections. Most of these are relatively mild, but in very rare cases the bacteria can cause invasive group A streptococci (iGAS).
Two of the most serious forms of this invasive disease are necrotizing fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. Both can kill.
The data show that the number of iGAS cases is five times higher than last winter, when it was unusually quiet.
Spikes in iGAS cases typically occur every three to four years, but social distancing during the Covid pandemic is believed to have interrupted this cycle.
Some experts suggest that this makes some young people less immune to Streptococcus A, and many children never encounter the bacterium in their lifetime.
Higher prevalence of other respiratory viruses, such as influenza, RSV and norovirus, may also put children at higher risk of contracting streptococcal type A virus, making them more susceptible to serious illness. says the World Health Organization.
Last week, experts revealed five times more prescriptions for penicillin were given than in the previous three weeks.
They said some forms of antibiotics could be put in a “deficiency protocol” that would allow pharmacists to give concerned parents alternative medicines.
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