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New University of Bristol study to aid strep A vaccine development

The study will offer new insights into the immune system’s response to iGAS.

Spencer Dayman Meningitis Research has announced that scientists at the University of Bristol have begun a research project to aid in the development of a vaccine against invasive group A streptococcus (iGAS).

The study will offer new and unique insights into the adaptive immune response to iGAS.

iGAS is a severe infection caused by bacteria invading parts of the body, including the blood, deep muscle, fat tissues, or lungs, which can lead to diseases such as meningitis and sepsis.

Since April 2023, there have been 3,287 cases of iGAS in the UK, 761 of which occurred in children aged 18 years and under.

There is currently no vaccine to protect individuals from group A streptococcus, which can also cause rheumatic fever and scarlet fever.

Funded by Spencer Dayman Meningitis Research, scientists Dr Ana Goenka, Dr Alice Halliday, and Dr Darryl Hill will use a new technique, the tonsil organoid model, to collect and grow cells from patients who had their tonsils surgically removed (tonsillectomy).

Tonsils are a key part of the body’s immune system, which helps fight infection.

After collecting the tonsils of patients, researchers will separate the cells to grow in a laboratory alongside different parts of the streptococcus A bacteria.

By measuring the immune response, researchers will be able to determine which parts of the bacteria could be used to aid a successful vaccine.

Goenka said: “We are very grateful to Spencer Dayman Meningitis Research for their generous financial support to enable us to undertake this important project.”

Dr Steve Dayman, founder of Spencer Dayman Meningitis Research, explained that in 1982 there were no vaccines to protect against bacterial infections causing meningitis and sepsis.

“Now we have five vaccines in the UK vaccine programme to protect against various strains of the disease. Pioneering research such as this has always proven to be the starting point towards the development of successful vaccines,” he said.