UC San Diego Researchers to Work on Vaccine for Group A Strep

What to Know

  • 11,000 to 13,000 cases of invasive group A strep disease occur each year in the US per the CDC
  • Each year between 1,100 and 1,600 people die due to invasive group A strep disease.
  • Group A strep can cause Rheumatic Fever and Scarlet Fever among other diseases.

Scientists at the UC San Diego School of Medicine will work with a Northern California biopharmaceutical company to develop a universal vaccine to battle strep throat. 

There is no current vaccine for Group A Streptococcus (GAS), the bacteria that causes pharyngitis or strep throat.

CARB-X, a funder of antibacterial development research, has awarded SutroVax, Inc. with up to $15 million to work on developing a vaccine. SutroVax, Inc. is located in Foster City south of San Francisco, California.

The vaccine will be based on research published 5 years ago by Victor Nizet, MD, professor of pediatrics and pharmacy at UC San Diego School of Medicine, Nina van Sorge, PharmD, PhD, a former post-doctoral fellow in Nizet's lab and now associate professor at Utrecht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and colleagues, according to a written news release from UC San Diego.

Their research identified genes encoding a molecule and shows how strep bacteria resists the immune system. The discovery led to a new strategy for a vaccine to prevent strep throat. 

Strep throat is common among children, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying up to 3 in 10 children with a sore throat have strep throat.

Because strep throat can easily spread to other people, it impacts a child's ability to attend school. 

“Developing a broadly effective and safe strep vaccine could prevent this suffering and reduce lost time and productivity at school and work, estimated to cost $2 billion annually,” Nizet said in 2014 when the research was made public.

NBC 7's Danielle Radin shows a new medical discovery at the University of California, San Diego, that scientists say has gone unnoticed for nearly a century, but could help to design a new vaccine for strep throat and flesh-eating bacteria.
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